When I hear brittle I think automatically of that light airy peanut brittle we usually purchase in stores, made light and airy by baking soda. This is nothing like that at all. When I decided to make this candy delight it was for ice cream (yes, ice cream) and knew that the brittle wouldn’t hold up well to the moisture with all those wonderful little air holes in it. So began my first attempts at making brittle, let me tell you it was failure after failure, I couldn’t understand what I was doing wrong, I followed the recipes exactly, sugar, water, heat. Unfortunately what usually transpired was syrupy or even worse burnt. I was actually getting a bit annoyed with the whole process when I saw 1 single blog basically tell me that the trick was just to use plain old sugar, nothing else in there at all. So at work one night I pulled out a pan and gave it a try, it was a voila moment really.
I have since had many people ask me for the recipe, it’s really very easy to do. Following directions is not my strong suite so if you don’t follow mine I wouldn’t be too worried. Just make sure that you don’t burn the sugar (do a couple test batches of just sugar, you will thank me later).
Heavy Duty Skillet (pan), preferably of the non coated kind, 1 cup measuring cup, ½ cup measuring cup, teaspoon, cookie sheet, either silpat or parchment paper, a large bowl of ice water (DO NOT skip this last one).
3 cups white sugar
2 cups chopped pecans (smoked pecans = huge points)
1 cup bacon (we added more, go ahead…I dare you to go 1.5 cups room temp please)
.5 cup butter at room temp
2.5 tsp’s homemade Vanilla Extract (pure, for the food people!)
1 tsp kosher salt (finishing salt, Habanero Salt would be awesome)
Sugar is such a sweet thing to eat, so wonderfully sweet and sweet, and yet so sweet. When sugar has been melted though it’s like the saliva from the hounds of hell and will burn through your skin and your tongue like someone has take a sharp drill and covered it in the hottest hot sauce and slowly….you get my drift? Oh, not only is it really freaking hot – it has the added bonus of being stickier then sap… have a bowl of ice water handy, if you spill it on yourself immediately submerse the burn!
Place the sugar in the bottom of the skillet over medium heat, you really will have to keep an eye on it. During the heating process it may start to burn in one spot beneath the sugar, if it does move the sugar around slightly. Usually it will start it liquefy at the edge. In very short order the caramel will start to brown at the edges when this happens begin to drag your melted sugar towards the centre to stop it from burning. If you burn the caramel it cannot be saved – nothing you can do but let it cool (please let it cool) on the silpat / parchment then throw it out. It will turn a really nice mellow brown colour, but will very quickly turn darker so pay attention to what you are doing. The caramel will most likely get lumpy or grainy lower the heat after it is melted and keep stirring it will slowly go away and if it doesn’t really it’s going to be in with other crunchy things so it won’t likely matter much.
Once the sugar has melted and become a beautiful auburn caramel colour quickly add the butter and vanilla, stir in until the butter is melted and both the butter and vanilla are incorporated. Then quickly add (by quickly I mean, QUICK) the bacon and pecans, stir in until it has all been incorporated. This process must be done really fast, once you add the bacon and the pecans the sugar starts to cool and harden. Then pour this mixture onto the silpat / parchment and spread out thinly. Then let it cool for about 10 minutes then sprinkle your finishing salt over the top of the entire brittle.
Now the hardest part, you have to wait for about 1 hour to let it cool – break it into chunks and enjoy.