Tips for Making Perfect Brittle Candy

All About Brittle Candy

  • A flat, irregular-shaped candy made by mixing nuts into caramelized sugar.
  • The sugar syrup is cooked to a very high concentration, usually around 98% (300 to 310°F).
  • Crystallization should be avoided completely.
  • Most brittle recipes contain corn syrup or an acid to help prevent crystallization.
  • Baking soda is often added to brittle syrups after they are cooked. The soda forms tiny carbon dioxide bubbles that become trapped in the candy, which help lighten the texture.
  • Always heat the nuts before adding them to the cooked syrup. Cool nuts will make the syrup cool down too fast and make it difficult to spread into a thin layer.
  • Immediately after pouring the brittle, use two forks sprayed with vegetable oil spray to pull the hot sugar mass into a thin, even layer. Once the brittle has cooled enough to touch, but is still pliable, it may be further stretched by hand, if desired.
  • Some candy makers wear cotton gloves when stretching brittle by hand to avoid leaving fingerprints or smudges on the brittle!

Preventing Crystallization

  • Always allow the sugar to dissolve before allowing the syrup to come to a full rolling boil.
  • Do not allow sugar crystals to form on the sides of the pan while boiling the syrup. This may be controlled by washing down the sides of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in water - or by placing a lid on the pot at the beginning of the process to trap steam, which will wash down the sides of the pan.
  • Oiling the sides of the sauce pan (with vegetable oil spray) helps prevent crystals from sticking to the sides of the pan; it also helps prevent boil-over.
  • Cook the syrup on a burner larger than the diameter of the sauce pan. This will keep the sides of the pan hot and help prevent crystallization.
  • Include ingredients that prevent crystallization, such as corn syrup and acids (e.g., lemon juice and cream of tartar).
  • Do not stir or agitate the sugar syrup once it begins to boil, unless the recipe specifies to do so.
  • Never dip a spoon, or other utensil that has been dipped in the syrup, back into the syrup without washing and drying it first.
  • Pour the syrup from the pan; do not scrape the pan.

Some information adapted from the following sources:  On Food and Cooking, The Science and Lore of the Kitchen by Harold McGee, Food Lover’s Companion by Sharon Tyler Herbst and