I know everyone is really busy getting ready for the big day this Thursday, so I thought I’d share a little something extra for your Thanksgiving table.
I think it’s all the little extra touches and garnishes that make a holiday meal special. The special place settings and serving pieces. The special cranberry sauce or turkey gravy with a little something extra. Our menu this year will be roasted turkey, dressing (not stuffing – dressing), roasted carrots with thyme, butter beans (real southern butter beans, not limas), escalloped apples, and rolls. Alongside the main dishes will be a homemade cranberry-orange sauce, a relish tray (pimiento cheese stuffed celery, pickled okra, olives, kosher dills), pumpkin pie, pecan cheesecake pie, and barbecue sauce (it’s a family thing – don’t ask).
This brittle will be one of those special little touches for the pumpkin pie. It’s almost identical to peanut brittle, but made with toasted pumpkin seeds and the addition of cinnamon. It makes a great garnish for your pumpkin pie. Just stand a little shard of it up in the whipped cream swirl you make on top of the slice of pie and it really dresses up the plate.
¼ cup butter, cut into chunks (plus more for pan)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tblsp vanilla extract
1 ½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp salt
2 ½ cups sugar
1/3 cup light corn syrup
1 ½ cups toasted hulled pumpkin seeds
To start, lightly butter a 10×15 inch baking sheet. Set it aside for later.
In a small bowl, stir the baking soda in vanilla to dissolve and set aside. In another bowl, stir together the pumpkin seeds, salt and cinnamon.
In a 4 to 5 quart saucepan over medium heat, use a wooden spoon to stir together the sugar, corn syrup and ¼ cup butter until the butter is melted and sugar is dissolved.
From this point on in the process, I just couldn’t get any photos because, well, do you have any idea what it’s like to cook with one hand and take photos with the other while trying to avoid getting 300 degree hot caramelized sugar on your hands? Seriously, be very careful with the hot caramelized sugar. If you get any on your bare skin it will burn immediately and it will hold on for dear life.
Increase heat slightly and boil sugar mixture, stirring occasionally, until it turns a deep amber and registers 293-295 (hard crack stage) on a candy thermometer. Or use the cold water hard crack test if you know how. It takes approximately 8-12 minutes to reach hard crack stage.
Remove the sugar mixture from the heat and carefully stir in the vanilla/soda mixture and pumpkin seed mixture. The hot mixture will bubble furiously when you add the baking soda/vanilla – that’s normal.
Immediately pour the hot mixture into your prepared pan. Evenly spread the mixture to mostly fill the pan.
Let brittle cool at room temperature for 30 to 40 minutes. Gently twist the pan to release brittle then chop or break it into chunks. Store it in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.
Caramelizing Sugar: Watch closely. Sugar cooks quickly once it begins to brown, so have your ingredients measured and ready before you start.
Pumpkin Seeds: I used toasted, salted pumpkin seeds in my brittle, so I decreased the amount of salt to ¼ teaspoon. If you toast your own seeds, or purchase the unsalted ones, then use the full ½ teaspoon of salt in the recipe.
Cleaning the pan: It’s always a mess trying to clean the pot after a candy making session! The best way I’ve ever found to do it is to add water to the pan and put it back on the stove. Bring the water to a boil and it melts and cooks the hardened sugar right off of there. Clean as a whistle!
Here’s wishing each and every one of you the most blessed of Thanksgivings! Get ready for the mad rush to Christmas, everyone!