Sunday, January 12, 2014

Cashew Brittle (or Peanut Brittle if you prefer!)

I remember loving peanut brittle
Cashew brittle - broken up and ready to eat!
when I was growing up - the problem was, about the only time we had it was around the holidays when my aunt would make a batch for my dad and us kids didn't get much of it.

Fast forward MANY years - I had still never had it often but loved it. Then a very good friend gave me her recipe and introduced me to the homemade stuff and I never looked back (the same friend pretty much singlehandedly changed how I think about cooking and got me started on the path of loving it that I'm still walking today, for which I am eternally grateful).

To give you an idea about how good I think her original recipe is, I only made one minor change (the addition of vanilla).  Most recipes I get - even ones from my mother - I seriously modify (because I can't help myself, not necessarily because they need it) but this one is so good and yet simple at the same time that it didn't need any changes (the addition of vanilla is truly a personal preference - add it if you like it, leave it out if you don't).

That's when I found out that you could make brittle with something besides peanuts (yes, it seems pretty obvious now!).  My favorite is cashew brittle. If you like nuts, it truly is amazing. It's also incredibly simple - it takes just a few ingredients and small bit of time. In addition, it's vegetarian AND vegan so you can serve it to anyone (as long as they don't have a nut allergy that is).

I've followed in my aunt's footsteps and given it out for the holidays in a nice tin lined with wax (or parchment) paper and it was a huge hit. Today, I just made it because it sounded good and I hadn't had it in a while.

If you prefer peanuts to cashews, simply substitute raw peanuts for the cashews and it will come out fine.  I've also made it in the past with macadamia nuts, almonds and even pine nuts (pignolis) or a combination of the above.  Also, this is pretty thick with cashews as it is, but if you want even more, feel free to add more than the cup listed. You won't have to change anything else to make up the difference and it will taste fine.


  • 1 cup sugar
    Sugar, corn syrup and salt
    mixed together and ready.
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup raw cashews (if you choose to use raw peanuts, be certain they do NOT have the skins - I was told this initially when I got the recipe and tried using the ones with skins anyway because I didn't think it made any difference.  I was wrong.)  


  1. Prepare a cookie sheet by coating with Pam spray or a light coat of butter or oil (lately, instead of doing this I put a piece of parchment paper - NOT wax paper - on the cookie sheet and lightly spray that.  It makes cleanup a snap!). Place the prepared sheet close to the stove.
  2. Measure out one teaspoon of baking soda and have it close at hand. 
    After adding cashews.
    Note how light the color is.
  3. Combine sugar and corn syrup with the salt in a large heavy bottomed pan and mix together. 
  4. Turn heat on medium high.
  5. Stir continuously until the mixture comes to a boil.
  6. Stir in the cashews (or whatever nuts you're using).
  7. Keep stirring for approximately 8-10 minutes. What you're looking for here is a color change - it will turn from a white/clear to a golden/amber color. If you want to use a candy thermometer, it's approx. 300 degrees. It's VERY important to not overcook or your brittle will taste burnt.
  8. Remove from heat immediately when the right color/temperature is reached.
  9. Remember that baking soda we said to keep close?  This is when you need it. Dump it and the vanilla in the pan with the rest of the ingredients and keep stirring. It will start foaming and should be a golden/light tan color.
    Just before taking off the heat.
    Note the color of the mixture (and
    cashews) at this point.
  10. Quickly pour the entire thing onto the prepared cookie sheet and spread out evenly with a spatula or the back of a wooden spoon. Remove as many of the bubbles as you can. This step goes VERY fast and the candy is VERY hot. Be careful and do it as quickly as you can.
  11. Put the sheet on a cooling rack and let rest until cool - alternately, if you're like me and don't want to wait, make room in the freezer!
  12. Once it's cool, carefully turn it over and wipe the oil off the back. 
  13. Break into pieces and store in a wax paper lined tin (or other airtight container).
  14. Enjoy!

This is what the mixture will look like after
you add the baking powder.  It will foam up.
At this point, you have to work fast!
We buy all of our raw nuts at a local Asian grocery store (for anyone living in our area, A. Dong in West Hartford is a great place to visit!).  I know not everyone has an Asian grocery store close to them or they simply never have the opportunity to go to one so I've included links to Amazon for all the different types of nuts I mentioned - and it IS important to use raw nuts as opposed to ones that have already been roasted.
This is the cashew brittle cooled, waiting to be
broken into smaller pieces and eaten!

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