The holidays are here and it’s time to get your DIY candy and cookie game back in gear. You may be balking at adding a savory element to candy, but let me reassure you, Aleppo Chile is the perfect way to add depth and character to your homemade brittle. Judging by how fast this brittle disappeared at a recent holiday gathering I attended with non-adventurous eaters, I think it’s safe to say that it’s a crowd pleaser.
Aleppo Chile has a sweet flavor reminiscent of sun-dried tomatoes with a subtle kick of spiciness. Originally grown in the northern regions of Syria along the infamous silk road trading route, the chile is now mainly cultivated just over the border in Turkey. When you first bite into the brittle, you will taste caramelized honey and peanuts and then the heat from the chile will come through as a complement, not an assault, on your tongue.
Don’t be intimidated by making brittle. But do proceed with caution; sugar is extremely dangerous when boiled. For this recipe, I recommend using a high-sided frying pan and a heatproof spatula or wooden spoon. It is also important to have all of your ingredients ready to go and a place to pour out the brittle nearby before starting this project since once sugar starts going it moves very quickly.
The other wonderful thing about this recipe is its adaptability to your own flavor preferences. You can use any nut and you can change up the spices and flavor of salt as well. See the end of the recipe for some of our suggestions or get creative and let us know what worked for you.
1 ½ cups peanuts (lightly toasted if desired) ½ teaspoon baking soda1 teaspoon salt1 ¼ teaspoon Aleppo Chile flakes 2 cups sugar1/3 cup honey4 oz butter (cut into cubes to help melt faster)
Line a rimmed baking tray with sprayed parchment paper or a Silpat if you have one.
Put peanuts, baking soda and salt into a container together and keep close at hand.
Measure out the Aleppo Chile into another small bowl.
Place sugar, honey, and butter into a high-sided sauté pan and place over medium-high heat. Stir occasionally so that the sugar doesn’t burn, and to incorporate the ingredients together.
Since I do not trust thermometers when it comes to sugar, I wait for a noticeable color change from pale beige to a golden brown. If you watch your sugar mixture closely, you will see this happen. Make sure to occasionally stir the mixture so that it is heating through evenly. It will go from the color of a generic stick of butter to something similar to light brown sugar.
Once you see this darker color, turn off the heat and dump in the nuts, baking soda, and salt. Stir everything together. The baking soda will react with the sugar mixture, causing the color to change to a more orangey gold and it should bubble and hiss a little. This is normal. Once you have those ingredients properly stirred in, stir in the Aleppo pepper flakes and pour the brittle out onto your lined sheet tray.
Allow the brittle to cool slightly, then, very carefully pull the brittle to thin it out. You may want to take the parchment paper or Silpat and place it directly on the table. This allows the sugar to cool faster. You’ll notice the edges starting to cool first, they go from molten lava to malleable putty. That is when you want to start stretching it. You can put on rubber gloves to protect your fingers. There is a very small window between when the brittle is too hot and too cool to do this. It should stretch but not break apart. The point of doing this is to make the brittle thinner and easier to eat.
If this process is too intimidating, try pouring the brittle onto a tray with a larger surface area so that you can spread it out thinner while it is still liquid.
Once the brittle is completely cool, break into shards and place in an airtight container. If you are going to place the brittle in cookie boxes with other things, I suggest putting it into a separate plastic bag so it doesn’t pick up too much moisture.
Other combinations to try:
Substitute 2 teaspoons of Vanilla Bean Sea Salt or Applewood Smoked Sea Salt for the salt in the recipe and use almonds.
Substitute Persian Lime Curry Rub for the Aleppo Chile and use cashews.
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