– This cinnamon pumpkin seed brittle recipe is for the discerning brittle lover only. –
Today, the intrepid Melanie McMinn is back with another sweet, tasty recipe – cinnamon pumpkin seed brittle. This exotic candy makes a great gift when wrapped in a nice gift bag and tied with a bow.
Take it away, Melanie!
Melanie McMinn’s Spicy Pumpkin Seed Brittle
Do you feel guilty throwing away pumpkin seeds? If you are like me, you pull them out of the pumpkin and say to yourself “I’ll definitely toast, roast, or do something else fabulous with these. Garnish soups with them, yeah. I know they’re good for you, I can’t just throw them away!” Two weeks later, you find the greenly molding mass in the back of the fridge THEN throw them out. Until now.
With this stylish cinnamon pumpkin seed brittle, you’ll be showing your pepitas off. You may even find yourself heading off to the nearest Latin grocery store to pick up some for extra batches. And if you aren’t a fan of cinnamon, you can easily substitute cayenne or cumin for more exotic versions.
Most recipes you find for brittle call for corn syrup, but I adapted this recipe to remove that not-at-all-natural ingredient. If you haven’t heard, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is pretty nasty stuff. Take a look at a great post called Icky Ingredients: High Fructose Corn Syrup at Allie’s Answers. I knew I couldn’t find Karo down here in New Zealand, but I didn’t know HFCS is banned in a number of countries until I read that post. Learn more about HFCS from the great list of links at Daily Kos: Americans Consume 98 lbs Refined Corn Fructose/Yr.
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, if you like hot, throw in some ground cayenne. I’ve also seen cumin used instead of cinnamon for a smoky taste.
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup sugar
- 3/4 cup water
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1 cup pumpkin seeds (toasted or not, I toast mine in a 350° F oven for about 8 min until they start making a small popping noise)
- Kosher or sea salt to taste
- Lightly butter a cookie sheet or cover with a silicon liner. In a small bowl, stir baking soda into vanilla to dissolve and set aside. In another bowl, stir together cinnamon and salt to help the cinnamon distribute evenly when it’s stirred into the sugar mixture.
- In a large heavy bottom saucepan over medium-low heat, use a heatproof spatula or wooden spoon to stir together sugar, water and butter until butter is melted and sugar is completely dissolved. Increase heat to medium and boil sugar mixture, stirring occasionally, until it turns a deep amber and measures 168°C (335-340°F) on a candy thermometer*, 8 to 12 minutes.
- *You can do it without a candy thermometer, but it is easier with one as will seem to be taking FOREVER to change color. With the thermometer you don’t have to guess when to take the pan off the heat or wonder if the mixture is getting hot enough. I have to crank my eye all the way up to the max to get the syrup to the required temperature. I don’t think it would EVER get there on medium.
- Remove sugar mixture from heat and carefully stir in vanilla and cinnamon mixtures (they will bubble up). Immediately stir in pumpkin seeds and pour into prepared pan, using spatula or wooden spoon to evenly spread and fill pan OR pour mixture over pumpkin seeds that have been spread out on the cookie sheet. Sprinkle all over with kosher/sea salt immediately if you want that sweet and salty taste.
- I think it is prettier if you pour the mixture OVER the seeds, otherwise, you end up with brown squares. Yummy, but less festive looking.
- Let the brittle cool at room temperature for 30 to 40 minutes. Break into chunks. It also makes a beautiful garnish to stick a piece into whipped cream on top of pumpkin pie, other pumpkin or spiced desserts or instead of biscotti with hot spiced drinks.
- A note on cleanup: Once you've poured out your candy mixture and sprinkled your salt, put water in the pan you were cooking in and bring it to a boil. Use the boiling water to clean any other implements, spatula, thermometer, etc. If you use boiling water, clean up is a breeze. If you try to clean up with regular “hot” water, you could be scrubbing all day.