Sunday, September 30, 2012

Smoky Maple Pumpkin Seed Brittle Recipe

Accents matter.
Listening to a group of people, the lilt of a brogue, the sliding vowels of New York, the guttural catch of German, all serve to fascinate me.
That is where the story lies, with those nuances and tweaks to the language.
In food, so much is the same. It is the accents that takes a recipe from routine to special.
Accents like this smoky maple pepita brittle recipe (pumpkin seed) I use as an accent for Creamy Vegan Pumpkin Soup.

I’ve had a love affair with maple my entire life. Never actually tasted true syrup till I was in my 20’s, the cost was just too dear for our family of eight to afford. We got by on Mapleine, an ersatz artificially flavored boiled sugar syrup.

But even making Mapeline, I was the one cooking up the accent to breakfast. I couldn’t leave well enough alone, had to add just a pinch of brown sugar to the mixture, a pinch of salt too.
The contrasts matter.

So when true maple syrup made its way into my pantry, I experimented.
And this type of brittle became one of my favorite ways to accent my food.
It only takes about 10 minutes to make a batch.
Holds for a week if you can manage not to sample just a bit when you’re near the container. And makes the perfect accent for soups, ice cream, or curries.
I’ve even been known to make a batch and then dip it in melted dark chocolate for Christmas gifts.
The one thing to remember about this recipe is that you need to cook it long enough to get a crisp snap once cool.
Since there is so little in the pan at one time, it is hard to use a candy thermometer.
I go by appearance, but realize if it doesn’t set up the first time you test, it will shortly. It's fine to recook till it firms up as well. I've even baked a tray that insisted on staying sticky.
My daughters have made this kind of brittle since they were 10 or so, without me in the kitchen.
It is truly that easy.

One essential tool is a silpat or parchment paper cookie sheet, ready to go.
When the brittle is ready, there is no time to find them.

Smoky Maple Pumpkin Seed Brittle Recipe


The choices of ingredients matter. This brittle recipe has only 4 ingredients and that is counting salt. Uses the more flavorful grade B maple syrup for a deeper richer flavor. Super fast to make, just watch the pan for those tiny bubbles.
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Yield: 1 cup
Equipment: Silpat or parchment paper
1/2 cup Grade B Amber Maple Syrup
1/4 cup organic pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
¼ teaspoon kosher salt or pink Hawaiian salt
pinch of smoked paprika

1. Have ready a cookie sheet with a silpat or parchment paper on it.
2. Pour the maple syrup into a shallow heavy pan.
3. Cook over medium heat till the maple syrup begins to boil. At first the bubbles will be large and open
4. After 3 minutes or so, the bubbles become tinier and denser.
5. Stir in the pumpkin seeds, salt and paprika.
6. Continue to stir constantly, watch for the bubbles to get very fine, coating each pumpkin seed with a light glaze.
7. After 1 minute or so, drop a couple of seeds onto the prepared pan. Watch to see if they harden quickly.
If they do, then remove the pan from the heat. If they don’t continue to cook till the sample does harden immediately
8. Pour the mixture out onto the prepared sheet, Spread quickly to a thin brittle, ideally 1-2 pepitas thick.
Sometimes it hardens to fast, don’t worry, you can break up the thicker clumps later.
Allow to cool, then break into pieces.
Store in a tightly sealed container till serving.

If you don’t want it smoky, feel free to leave out the paprika. I tend to add a pinch to create that contrast I love, but a bit more of salt would do too.

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