Masala Nut Brittle
Recipe and photo by Tami Ganeles Weiser
Prep Time: 15 minutes Cooling Time: 1 hour 30 minutes Cook Time: 25 minutes
Fragrant, sweet, and salty, this South Indian–inspired brittle is ready for action at your next party. Drinks to match? Easy-peasy. Try it with a gingery drink to keep the spicy heat coming. Go mellow with Scotch or crank up the sweetness with rum.
½ teaspoon black peppercorns
¼ teaspoon green cardamom seeds
¼ teaspoon fennel seeds
⅛ teaspoon whole cloves
4 large or 6 small dried bay leaves
1 teaspoon roasted ground cinnamon, Saigon preferred (see Kitchen Tips)
1¼ cups granulated sugar
½ cup plus 1 tablespoon corn syrup
½ cup water
1½ cups toasted almonds (see Kitchen Tips)
1½ cup toasted cashews (see Kitchen Tips)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cultured preferred
¾ teaspoon baking soda
- Heat a heavy saucepan over high heat until it’s hot when you wave your hand over the top. Add the black peppercorns, cloves, cardamom, and fennel seeds, stir well, and toast for 30 to 40 seconds, until fragrant. Transfer to a spice grinder or a coffee grinder dedicated to spices. Add the bay leaves and ground cinnamon and grind until completely powdery. Set aside.
- Line 2 (12- by 17-inch) rimmed baking sheets with Silpats and spray with nonstick vegetable oil spray. If you have a marble surface for baking, spray it, or oil it, and use that. Position a pastry brush and small bowl of water near the stove.
- In a heavy saucepan, combine the sugar, corn syrup, and water. Stir to ensure that the sugar is completely moistened. Insert a candy thermometer, positioning it so that does not touch the bottom (so you get the temperature of the candy, and not the bottom of the pan). Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly. (You can stop stirring when the mixture begins to boil. That will make the candy part clearer.) Boil for 2 to 3 minutes, until the temperature reaches 264°F. As crystals form on the sides, brush down sides of the pot with the pastry brush dipped in water (see Kitchen Tips).
- Carefully add the toasted almonds and cashews and stir to coat well with a heat-resistant or metal spoon. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 10 minutes, until the mixture reaches 310°F and is a golden caramel color. Timing will vary quite a bit by pan thickness, size, and stovetop power, so watch the thermometer and color of the mixture carefully.
- Immediately remove from the heat, and quickly add the butter, toasted spice mixture, salt, and baking soda. Stir with a heat-resistant spoon until the butter melts and is fully incorporated. It will foam considerably.
- Pour half the mixture into each baking sheet, spreading it evenly with a heat-resistant spatula. Let cool for at least 1½ hours and then break it into pieces, as large or small as you like. You can just lift it up and slam it down to break it apart. Or you can place it on a work surface and rap it with a kitchen hammer or meat pounder. Rapping it lets you control the size of the pieces a little better.
- You can find roasted cinnamon in many supermarkets, but it’s easy to roast it yourself. Pour the ground cinnamon into a frying pan or cast-iron skillet and set over medium heat. Toast for 10 to 20 seconds, or up to 1 minute, until fragrant. Watch carefully so it does not burn.
- You can find toasted or roasted nuts in most supermarkets, but if you can’t, or if you prefer to roast your own, try The Weiser Kitchen’s Roasted Nuts recipe.
- Handle hot sugar carefully, as it can cause painful burns.