Toasted Hazelnut, Honey & Garam Masala Brittle
This buttery nut brittle is unlike any I have ever experienced. The flavor of wildflower honey almost supersedes that of toasted hazelnuts, but not quite. The taste buds dance from one flavor to the other and back again, helped along by a generous dose of sea salt, both in and on top of the brittle. The gentle yet pervasive background flavors of vanilla and exotic spices will keep you and everyone else coming back for more.
This brittle is great on its own but also as a garnish for any creamy dessert, such as a mousse, panna cotta, ice cream, pudding, crème caramel, or pot de crème. You can serve it in pieces alongside a dessert or pulverize in the processor and sprinkle it on top.
2 cups toasted, skinned hazelnuts, hit lightly with a mallet to break in half (10 ounces)
1½ cups large flake, unsweetened coconut
1-1½ teaspoons baking soda (I used 1 teaspoon but will try 1½ teaspoons on the next test)
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
2-3 teaspoons LunaCafe Garam Masala (I used 3 teaspoons)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups sugar
½ cup wildflower honey
½ cup unsalted butter
½ cup cold water
sea salt in a grinder
- Coat a large (12- by 17-inch), edged baking sheet with vegetable spray. Reserve.
- Combine the baking soda, salt, and LunaCafe Garam Masala in a small bowl and set next to the stove, along with the open bottle of vanilla and a set of measuring spoons.
- In a large (3 quart) saucepan, combine the sugar, honey, butter, and water. Slowly bring to a simmer, stirring to help dissolve the sugar. Wash down the sides of the pan occasionally with a pastry brush dipped in cold water to prevent sugar crystals from forming.
- When the mixture comes to a boil, stop stirring, wash down the sides of the pan once more, and let simmer undisturbed until an instant-read thermometer registers 300° (hard crack stage). Depending on the heat of the burner, the time this takes will vary. Using high heat, it took 15 minutes in my tests. The mixture will go from pale gold to rich golden amber.
- Turn off the heat and immediate add the vanilla, being careful to stand back as you introduce the room temperature liquid into the very hot caramel. Stir with a silicon spatula to distribute the vanilla evenly. Then add the baking soda/salt/spice mixture, and again be cautious as this addition causes the caramel to foam furiously. When the foam subsides somewhat, stir with a silicon spatula to evenly distribute the baking soda mixture. You will notice that the texture of the mixture changes dramatically and appears a few shades lighter in color as well.
- Pour the hot caramel over the nut mixture in the baking pan and work quickly with a silicon spatula or oil-coated wooden spatula to coat all of the nuts with the hot caramel. Grind sea salt lightly over the brittle.
- Spread the brittle out as thinly as you can with an oiled wooden spatula. You will need to exert real pressure. When the brittle is still warm, yet cool enough to touch, you can pull on it from all sides to thin it even more.
- When the brittle is completely cool, break it into pieces with a mallet. Store in an airtight container in layers separated with foil or wax paper.
Makes one 12- by 17-inch slab of brittle.
Copyright 2009-2015 Susan S. Bradley. All rights reserved.