Friday, February 4, 2011

Hazelnut Brittle

The Secrets of Baking by Sherry Yard intimidated the heck out of me when I first bought it.  Back then, I was about 20 years old, and though that I could bake anything in the world, so I blindly bought this book from the mail order cookbook club I was in.  Then I got it and saw that it was written by Wolfgang Puck's pastry chef, and it's full of intricate recipes and short on the glossy pictures I had become accustomed to.

My good friend over at The Adventures of Mini-Martha posted a recipe for peanut brittle the other day and I thought to myself that I should try a brittle.  Then I happened to be emptying out my bookshelves of books I no longer use and came across this gem.  I'm no longer intimidated, and simply excited by the baking possibilities that other books didn't give me.

This recipe is somewhat simple, but takes a while.  Yard recommends getting the skins off of the hazelnuts, but it's pretty hard when you buy them already chopped (all I had on hand).  She says that it creates a bitter flavor, and perhaps my palate isn't developed enough, but when I ate this I tasted a hint of caramel, a hint of cotton candy, the brightness of orange, and the warmth of hazelnuts.  Next time, I think I'll be dipping them in chocolate and creating a crunchy nutella-tasting treat!

FYI~This is a very hard brittle.  Like, it looks and feels like glass.  Just to get you prepared...

Before you attempt this, you need these special tools:  candy thermometer, silicon baking mat or parchment paper, silicone spatula or an offset metal spatula.

3/4 c. hazenuts - skinned, and toasted (see the how section)
1/2 c. water
2 c. sugar
4 T. light corn syrup
1/4 t. finely chopped orange zest

Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper and spray with non-stick baking spray.

Preheat your oven to 300 and once it's reached temperature put the hazelnuts on a baking sheet in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring every five minutes or so.  Then remove the hazelnuts, a small handful at a time to a towel.  Fold the towel around the nuts and rub vigorously.  This should remove most of the skins.  Repeat until this has been done with all the hazelnuts.  Raise the temperature to 325 and return hazelnuts to the oven for 5 to 10 minutes to toast.  Then coarsely chop.

On one stove burner, heat a small saucepan with water and place a metal spoon in it.  This will be used later when adding the hazelnuts and orange zest to the hot caramel

Combine the water, sugar and corn syrup in a medium saucepan and stir them together with very clean hands until no lumps remain.

Cover the saucepan and put it on medium heat for 4 minutes.  After that time, remove the lid and increase the heat to high and bring to a boil.  DO NOT STIR.

The bubbles will start to get larger and when this happens insert a candy thermometer.  When the temperature reaches 300, lower the heat to medium, which will slow the cooking.  Let it continue to cook until the thermometer reads 325.  Remove from the heat and let it sit until the bubble subside.

When the bubbles have ceased add the hazelnuts and zest using the warmed spoon.  Pour the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet and spread it with an oiled offset spatula to 1/2 inch thickness.  If it's too thick, you can place the baking sheet in on oven set to 350, where it will warm up and spread out.

Allow it to cool completely at room temperature.  Break it into large pieces.  Serve as a topping to vanilla ice cream or just eat it like I've been doing.  Or you can pound it into tiny, tiny pieces and put it over ice cream like fancy sprinkles.  Yum!

~Original recipe found in this book

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  1. I can think of many uses for this gorgeous hazlenut brittle - I love the addition of the orange zest.

  2. This sounds amazing! I love everything hazelnut!

  3. Ive never made a brittle. This makes me want to try! Looks so yummy. I definitely think you should go that extra step and dip them in chocolate :)

  4. Mmmm, love the switch up of adding hazelnuts into brittle. Sounds great!



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