Candy can be intimidating. The first time I made candy it was because I wanted to make something special for the holiday season and found a recipe for buttery cashew brittle. It was the most complicated recipe I had ever tried to make but it looked so pretty and seemed so fancy. I must have read the recipe eight or nine times prior to trying it for the first time. Everything was measured twice and the recipe was rechecked prior to adding anything. My eyes were glued to the pot as I stirred and stirred watching the temperature gradually climb and the sugar transform before my eyes. When I added the baking soda to the cashew sugar it fizzed and boiled so violently that I was convinced I had down something wrong. But I kept going, spreading it on the baking sheet, gently pulling it with forks as the candy cooled and became hard. It was remarkable how the raw ingredients had transformed so dramatically to this beautiful brittle. When I finally got to try it, I was so proud of what I had accomplished. I had made candy.
It has been 13 years and I am still making this recipe. I have made many other kinds of candy. Some have been epic failures and some true delights. But no matter what candy I make this recipe is still at the top of my list. The recipe is easy as far as candy goes. You have to watch the sugar so it doesn’t burn, especially when the cashews are added but the corn syrup helps stabilize the sugar so crystallization is unlikely to occur. This dish may take time but hey, the best things in life are worth the wait.
Buttery Cashew Brittle:
2 c sugar
1 c light corn syrup
1/2 c water
1 c butter
3 c roasted, unsalted cashews
1 t baking soda
Butter two baking sheets and set aside.
Combine sugar, corn syrup and water in a medium sauce pot. Cook on medium, stirring until sugar dissolves. Be careful not to get sugar crystals up the sides of the pot. If you do get sugar crystals up the side, take a pastry brush, dip in water and brush the sides of the pot. This will wash the sugar crystals down. Bring the syrup to a light boil and add butter, stir gently until butter is melted.
Clip a candy thermometer to the side of the pan making sure the tip does not touch the bottom of the pot. Reduce heat to medium low. Continue gently boiling at a moderate, steady rate. Stir sugar mixture occasionally until thermometer reaches 280.
Stir in nuts. The temperature will drop but continue to cook on medium-low heat. Stir frequently to prevent the cashews from burning. Cook until thermometer reaches 300.
Remove from heat and remove thermometer. Quickly stir in baking soda, mixing thoroughly. The mixture will bubble and fizz at this point. Pour onto the two buttered baking sheets. As brittle cools, stretch it out by lifting and pulling with two forks.
Once cool enough to handle, loosen from pan and break into bite sized pieces. Try not to eat it all at once.