This winter, for some odd reason, I could not stop thinking about brittles. Not only would they be a great thing to package up for friends and family but I seem to keep refilling the tin that sits on my hutch... it's the perfect salty-sweet bite when I'm craving something after dinner on Saturday night.
Like so many other recipes, I think this is one of those where you create the candy base and can add to it whatever flavours you are currently enjoying... or those bits of nuts or chocolate or whatever are kicking around your baking cupboard. It's the candy equivalent of a fridge cleaner dinner... it's the pantry cleaner of sweets.
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 cup water
3/4 cup white corn syrup
1 2/3 cups chopped pecans
1/3 cup coconut
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Sprinkling of maldon salt and coconut over the surface
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or use a silicone baking mat. (I love my silicone baking mat for this task. It works perfectly!)
The elements on my stove seem to run a bit hot, so I typically set them a bit lower than what I have listed here. The best idea is to keep an eye on the thermometer!
I use a large saucepan. You'll want to use a larger pot than what you may think, based on what can hold the sugar+water+corn syrup. When you add the baking soda at the end, the syrup will foam up... almost like the volcano experiment when you're a kid. Better to be safe than chiselling brittle off of your stove!
Combine sugar, water and corn syrup in saucepan over medium heat. As the sugar dissolves (when the mixture is clear and you can see now more white sugar at the bottom), increase the heat to high. No more stirring for now! Clip on your candy thermometer and boil the syrup until the thermometer reaches 260 F. You can see the syrup start to thicken into more of a runny caramel... the bubbling even changes tone, almost becoming deeper. (It took about twenty+ minutes for my syrup to reach 260 F.)
Mix in butter, pecans and coconut.
Let the mixture cook until it reaches 295 F... you should be stirring it constantly at this point. I read a lot of recipes that We're not worried about crystallization anymore. This part took about fifteen minutes for me. Watch it like a hawk once it starts to near 285 F. Take out the candy thermometer when it gets around 292-293 F (as it will be a pain when the baking soda makes the candy foam up), quickly added the vanilla, baking soda and 1/2 teaspoon of chili powder. Stirred together and quickly dumped this onto the sheets so as not to burn the candy.
Pour onto prepared cookie sheets. I don't spread the brittle out but rather dump it onto my sheets. You can certainly spread it thin though, if that is what you prefer.
Let it stand until hard and cold. Break with childish enthusiasm (and a little hammer, if you have one). I wrapped up the slabs as one full piece and left it to the recipients to smash up... something that each of them seemed to enjoy!
(The best part is... if you choke and fearfully pull the candy off of the stove before it reaches the 295 F (as I did on the first attempt), do what I did and call it "honeycomb" rather than brittle! It's still just as tasty... just a slightly different texture. hahahah.)