Monday, February 11, 2008
My Almond Brittle is Smokin'...
I try not to indulge in “Shoulda, woulda, coulda” too much, but I really should have ignored that recipe last night. Zach asked if I could make either nut brittle or pralines, and specifically with almonds, so, since we only had whole, raw almonds on hand (and it was well past the hour of ‘oh, I’ll just run to the store and pick up some slivered almonds’) I decided to make a nice, chunky, crunchy, whole-almond brittle. This is when I should have simply whipped up some almond brittle without a second thought. It’s the simplest candy, really, and I could have just thrown it together from memory… but, since it was late at night, I still had the tail end of a head cold, and had consumed entirely too much Advil and coffee throughout the course of the day, I went and fetched a recipe to keep me from drifting off course in a sleepy daze halfway through the process.
Into the pan went the sugar and water. Merrily I watched it boil, sweeping sugar crystals from the sides of the pan with a pastry brush and feeling confident, as One Does While Making Candy. 8 minutes later, I started to peer into the mixture suspiciously. “It looks ready…” I muttered to myself. “The recipe says to keep boiling, though… for two more minutes… until it reaches this temperature, not the temperature where it is now… but darn it, the stuff sure looks ready…”
You know that saying about trusting your instincts? The one I didn’t listen to? It’s true. Two minutes later, I had smoking, blackened, burnt sugar syrup that didn’t even taste like the nice kind of burnt sugar.
So I threw out the recipe, and, like any good southern girl, decided to make pralines. Except, since pralines are a rather soft candy, and almonds, especially whole almonds, are much harder than the traditional praline pecan, I decided upon a hybrid – almond brittle pralines. Softer than your usual brittle candy, but crisper than a praline – these did not burn. These, I’m delighted to say, were deliciously reminiscent of pecan pie…
Here’s to generations-old family recipes that simply list ingredients, and then, helpfully, say “cook.” Because that’s just what I did – and it worked.
Here's the beginning of "cooking" the syrup...
Now it's really starting to do something... Look now nice and frothy! :-)
My syrup runneth over! (almost)
Now stir in those nice almonds and pecans...
and... we have gooey almond brittle pralines!
Almond Brittle Pralines
3 T butter
1 cup whole almonds
1 cup chopped pecans
1 ½ tsp vanilla
2 cups brown sugar
¾ cup milk
½ tsp baking soda
~ In a skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Stir in the pecans and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the vanilla, and set aside.
~ In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, stir the brown sugar, milk, and baking soda until it comes to a boil.
~ Let the sugar mixture boil, without stirring, until it reaches the soft ball stage (235 – 240 degrees F). This will take a while…
~ Remove from the heat, stir in the almond and pecan mixture, and beat until it begins to hold a shape.
~ Fill muffin tins 1/3 full with the mixture, cover, and chill in the fridge overnight. Pop them out the next day – delicious with a bit of whipped cream…