A twist on the classic peanut brittle, brown sugar cashew brittle is crunchy and sweet with a hint of toffee and vanilla.
Many years ago, my mother in law passed down to me her old candy thermometer.
For a long time I avoided using it; favoring less precise recipes instead. But when I decided to try my hand at candy making, I knew that candy thermometer would have to come out at some point.
And oh how it did.
Most are familiar with peanut brittle; and even though I hail from Virginia where peanuts are a signature food, I’m not a big fan of the legume on its own. But other nuts make me melt. Macadamias are my favorite, and cashews run a close second; which is why I was intrigued when I came across a BHG recipe for cashew brittle.
So I made it. And it was good. But it could be so much more.
So I braved the candy thermometer again and remade it with a few changes. Swapping out some of the white sugar for brown and adding vanilla extract to develops a more complex flavor. And salted nuts add that perfect sweet-salty combination.
And that is how brown sugar cashew brittle was born.
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BUT, in the flurry of trying to make brittle and dinner at the same time, I learned an important candy-making lesson: use a tall pot.
At some point, the thermometer got loose from its clip, flipped up and I got 240 degree candy stuck to two of my fingers.
Yeah, that was painful.
It took every ounce of resistance to avoid spewing profanity in front of the 3-year-old (who is repeating every single thing she hears these days).
Instead, I ran my hand under cold water screaming “Ow, ow, ow, ow, oooooowwwww!!!!” with tears running down my cheeks.
But even in painful times joy can be found.
That was a moment when I found that L is a lot like this brittle. She can be so tough and hard to deal with sometimes, but every once in a while she shows you that she’s really all sweetness and so irresistible.
So while I fought against searing pain in my fingers, and still trying not to ruin my candy, L gave me the most heartfelt hug ever. And I cherished it so much.
So now we’ll have a holiday story to tell about the time that I mis-used my MIL’s candy thermometer, and nearly got 3rd-degree burns doing it. It wasn’t funny at the time, but it’ll be funny someday.
At least I can tell you that it was worth it. So worth it.
Brown Sugar Cashew Brittle
- 1 C dark brown sugar
- 1 C white sugar
- 1 C light corn syrup
- 1/2 C water
- 1/4 C butter
- 2.5 cups roasted salted cashews
- 1.5 tsp baking soda sifted
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- extra butter for coating
- Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Butter the parchment paper to ensure the brittle doesn't stick. Prepare forks and/or silicone spatulas with cooking spray.
- Spread the cashews on a second baking sheet and place in the oven during the next stages. (warming the nuts will keep the candy mixture from dropping too quickly when they're added)
- Prepare a 3-quart saucepan by buttering the sides of the pan. Combine sugars, corn syrup, water and 1/4 cup butter in the saucepan. Stir over medium-high heat until mixture comes to a boil.
- Reduce heat to medium-low. Continue cooking the candy until a candy thermometer reads 275 degrees, maintaining a boil during that time. Adjust heat as necessary to avoid burning the mixture. This step should take about 30 minutes
- Remove cashews from oven and carefully stir in vanilla extract and cashews. Continue cooking, stirring frequently (to avoid burning the nuts) until a candy thermometer reads 295 degrees. This step should take another 15 to 20 minutes.
- Remove from heat. Add baking soda, stirring constantly. Immediately pour onto parchment covered baking sheet, stretching as thin as possible with prepared forks or spatulas.
- Cool completely on baking sheet before breaking into small pieces.
Have you ever burned yourself while cooking?
What’s the sweetest thing your kids have ever done for you?