Growing up, I loved peanut butter…actually, anything peanutty, really. Peanut brittle fell into this category, and honestly, who doesn’t love peanut brittle? Since I’ve grown up, I’ve come to love a variety of other nuts, and one of my favorites (hazelnuts) is in season at the moment, so I thought I’d enjoy my favorite nuts with one of my favorite candies by trying my hand at making a batch of hazelnut brittle to complete my Thanksgiving dinner.
The result was more than I could have hoped for–distinctly hazelnutty, sticky, crunchy, sweet, caramelly, buttery, salty, and lightly tinged with that delicious bourbon aroma. And just look at it. Maybe I’m a sucker for brittles, but I drool like Pavlov’s dog at the sight.
I was largely inspired by a recipe I saw, and honestly, I was really impressed with the results, especially considering how phenomenally simple this was to put together. This is the kind of dessert you could make in a pinch on the weekend and give out as a gift/favor this holiday season…or just keep handy for your own snacking. You or your friends will be very happy, I promise.
Also, since this falls under the candy-making umbrella, its worth mentioning that a candy thermometer is a handy thing to have. If you don’t though, its not the end of the world–just take a moment to familiarize yourself with the various sugar stages as sugar has dramatically different properties at different temperatures which will dictate your success/failure at making any candy (the flavor, texture, and appearance). Its not hard to do, but its something you really need to be aware of. Plus, its fun!
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/4 cup dark corn syrup
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 2 cups hazelnuts
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp bourbon
- 1/4 tsp vanilla
Begin by toasting the hazelnuts on a baking sheet at 350°F for 10 minutes. Once out of the oven, wrap the nuts in a towel, fold it shut, and rub like crazy to get as much of that papery coating off of the nuts as you can. Transfer the nuts to a bag and smash them into coarse chunks with a mallet.
In a sturdy, heavy-bottomed pan, boil the sugar, water, and corn syrup. Once boiling, add the butter. Never stir this.
Once this mixture reaches the hard ball stage (~260°F), add in the smashed nuts. Resist the urge to stir things.
Warm this up to the hard crack stage (~300°F) and then add in the remaining ingredients. Be careful as things might froth and sputter a bit.
At this point, the brittle is cooked, so carefully pour it out on a parchment lined baking sheet and give it an hour or two to cool down before storing in an airtight container (not in the fridge!).
When you’re ready, break off a chunk and enjoy!