I really don't like making brittle. It's true, there's just something fussy and sticky about. I am not intimidated by the use of a candy thermometer, rather it's brittle's tendency to stick aggressively to your teeth, to be impossibly hard or too sticky soft, to carry the burned reminiscence of sugar gone wrong.
But what if I told you there was a brittle that avoided all of these things? One that turned out perfectly sweet and salty and crunchy, one that you didn't even need to use a thermometer for? For years I thought this was impossible, but in baking for the holidays last year, I was lucky to find just such a recipe. I had the idea to make a Mediterranean-themed cookie box, and pine nuts fit the bill perfectly, along with pistachio shortbread, quince thumbprints, and of course apricot ma'amoul. This recipe comes together super quickly, and only requires your concentration to watch the sugar. And of course, you can still use a thermometer if you like.
Rosemary Pine Nut Brittle
I do not recommend packing these in a cookie tin with other cookies, the relative humidity will cause the brittle to soften. But who am I kidding, this stuff's not lasting that long anyway. Adapted from Food52.
2 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups pine nuts
8 tablespoons (4 oz) unsalted butter
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon finely ground sea salt
1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and have all your ingredients at the ready, mise-en-place style.
2. Place the sugar in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan and heat over medium-high heat until the sugar melts, stirring occaisionally with a wooden spoon. Once the sugar has melted, stop stirring and watch the mixture carefully as the sugar turns a medium caramel color. You can swirl the pan a bit to even out the texture, and keep a very close eye to avoid burning the mixture.
3. Once you've reached medium caramel color, add in the pine nuts and butter and stir for two minutes. Stir in all the rosemary and half the sea salt.
4. Immediately spread out onto your sheet pan, spreading the mixture evenly. Sprinkle with the remaining sea salt. Allow to cool at least one hour.
5. Break brittle into pieces and store in an airtight tin.