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!
- 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 Wikipedia.com.