December 20th • Posted in Recipe
Is brittle even a Christmas tradition anywhere? Not sure why but I keep associating brittle or, how we call it here in Italy, ‘croccante’ with the festive season, yet I’m sure it’s not purely restricted to Christmas. It must be that handmade brittle starts appearing every so often in Christmas markets especially, or that we tend to associate nuts with wintertime, or that again its sweet caramel-y flavour, enriched with a few drops of citrusy lemon juice, fits so perfectly with this period of the year.
It’s surely a food that starts appearing very often on Italian tables during this time of the year, and even though we eat brittle on a regular basis every year in December, it only touched my mind around a couple of weeks ago to give it a proper try and make my own brittle from scratch at home. I mean, how difficult could it be? Not considering the fact that I have read a million recipes before deciding how to proceed, it’s a pretty simple process indeed!
Being such an easy, customizable recipe, homemade brittle is just about finding the perfect balance between the sweetness of caramelized sugar and the citrusy flavor of lemon combined with the toasted nuts. It’s about picking your favourite nuts, whether they are hazelnuts, almonds or a mix of both and others if you fancy, and combining them into a thick block of sweetness. It’s about cracking your block into small pieces and wrap them up into food paper bags and a pretty bow to give as a gift on the season of giving.
It’s about filling your kitchen with the aroma of caramel and toasted nuts while you’re making it, picking up the most yellow lemon from your own tree and squeezing its freshest juice, whose scent will only be revealed while you’re melting it down with the finest sugar.
- 130g peeled hazelnuts
- 130g caster sugar
- juice of 1/4 lemon
1 :: Measure out the hazelnuts and cut each one of them in half to ensure that the brittle won't be too thick in the end. Then place all the halves in a large pan and toast them on a medium heat for a few minutes, until they start smelling nutty and toasted.
2 :: Combine the sugar and the lemon juice in a medium-sized saucepan, then place on a very low heat and allow the sugar to slowly melt completely. Start stirring with a non-stick spatula to ensure the sugar is all melted down but it's not sticking to the bottom of the pan. Remove from heat when the caramel has turned to a nice amber color - do not over heat it or you may risk to burn it and it may taste a bit too bitter in the end.
3 :: Quickly add the nuts in the saucepan and stir the melted sugar around them until they're coated in a nice layer of caramel. Then transfer onto a flat surface, covered in parchment paper, and flatten out the brittle as much as you can.
4 :: Leave to cool completely (it requires around 10-15 minutes), then crack the block into shards with your hands and enjoy!
I’m definitely a fan of how my homemade hazelnut brittle has turned out and am sure I’ll make more to give as handmade gift at Christmas this year! Let me know if you decide to try out this recipe (and if you eat brittle at Christmas too!)! x