Winter Solstice is always exciting in our beautiful corner of the Northwest because it means the days will start getting a little longer again. Leaving for work in the dark and then coming home in the dark (especially when it’s only 4pm!) always leaves me a little unsettled, so I get excited when I know that we are moving in the direction of more daylight!
When I first started thinking about what recipe I would like to demo today all I could think of was darkness – dark chocolate pudding, dark chocolate brownies, a delicious chocolate truffle Bûche de Noël (one of my FAVORITE recipes, and naturally gluten-free). After talking with my coworker Marc, I decided I was being too gloomy, and he suggested making a non-peanut brittle. We pow-wowed for a few minutes, and decided that a local hazelnut and cranberry brittle would be a delicious experiment to try.
I have never made brittle before, and it is very easy as long and you prepare all of your ingredients ahead of time (or mise en place for those of you into cooking terminology). I looked at a few recipes for guidance and got started. The brittle came together pretty quickly – I was done and ready for it to start cooling in about 20 minutes. You will need a candy thermometer, but that is the only special equipment you will need to make this yummy candy.
There are a couple of things I would like to stress about this recipe – make sure you have all your ingredients measured out and have a sink full of HOT water ready for your cooking implements when you are done making the candy – both of these things will make this brittle recipe easy and quick!
Hazelnut and Cranberry Brittle
Recipe is a collaboration between the Sassy Sampler and Marc Westenberger (a cashier at our Cordata store and all-around great guy)
1/2 c organic granulated sugar
1/2 c packed organic dark brown sugar
1/2 c organic light corn syrup
1/4 t sea salt
1/4 c water
1 c raw hazelnuts (I recommend the local hazelnuts from Holmquist Orchard)
1/2 c dried organic cranberries
2 T unsalted organic butter, softened
1 t baking soda
1. Mise en place (“everything in place”)—roughly chop the hazelnuts and measure out all ingredients. Gather them around your stove for an easy reach, as the end of the recipe comes together very quickly and you won’t have time to measure or chop anything.
2. Line a large baking sheet with foil and grease it with butter. Place baking sheet in a warm oven (170°-200°F).
3. In a 4 quart saucepan over medium heat, combine sugars, corn syrup, sea salt, and water.
4. While stirring with a rubber spatula, bring to a boil and continue to stir until sugar is dissolved (it will suddenly start to foam up). Immediately add the hazelnuts and stir continuously until the temperature reaches 300°F.
5. Remove from heat and immediately stir in the butter, baking soda, and cranberries. Grab your cookie sheet out of the oven (it’s hot, wear gloves).
6. Pour immediately onto the baking sheet as evenly as possible (depending on how thick your mixture is—try to pour it in a circle starting at the center) – ideally, it is best if you don’t have to mess with it too much—you can use a couple forks to gently spread it into an even layer on your cookie sheet.
7. Cool completely, and snap into pieces.
Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
I recommend having a big pot of boiling water or a sink full of really hot soapy water ready to put all your cooking instruments into after you are done making the brittle—if you don’t wash your dishes RIGHT AWAY then anything left in the saucepan will harden in the blink of an eye and become next to impossible to clean.