When I think about preparing for the holidays, there are a few things that I consider “musts”. The house (inside and out) has to be decorated. I have to send Christmas cards… usually with glitter… always with “Merry Christmas” and not “Happy Holidays” or “Warm Winter Wishes” (seriously, what?). I need to spend a ridiculous amount of money on coordinated wrapping paper, bows and ribbon (thanks, Target). Finally (and most importantly), I have to make my Christmas baking list. It’s a list that grows longer each year and, as a result, I make it through a lower percentage of the list every holiday season. There are just some baked goods that scream Christmas to me, mostly because my mom made them when I was a kid (hello, mini cheesecake cookies and peanut butter blossoms). It just wouldn’t be the holidays without huge trays and tins of goodies to share with family and friends. Peanut brittle was never something we had around much when I was growing up, but I’ve developed a healthy appreciation for it over the last few years. I thought changing it up by swapping out the peanuts for the pistachios might be a fun change of pace. Turns out, it was a delicious change of pace!
Candy can be a daunting task, between the thermometers, hard ball and soft ball stages, and all of that nonsense. I’ll admit to having my fair share of ups and downs with all things candy and have thrown away a pan or two in my day. I’ve found this basic brittle recipe to be fairly simple and forgiving, and (bonus!) you do not need to use a candy thermometer when making it. Just keep a watchful eye and pay attention to the change in color and you’ll be golden (pun intended ;-))!
I love the flavor that pistachios bring to brittle candy – a little saltier, with a little more “oomph” than peanuts, and something quite unexpected. I like to buy the bag of pistachios that have already been shelled to save my fingers from the blisters that shelling an entire pound will cause ;-)
What do you love to find on holiday cookie trays?!
Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly coat with cooking spray; set aside.
In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, water, corn syrup and salt. Bring to a rapid simmer over medium-high and cook until deep golden, about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in the butter, baking soda and pistachios (the mixture will foam). Continue to stir until the mixture is no longer bubbling and the caramel is smooth, about 1 minute.
Transfer to the prepared baking sheet and spread with a rubber spatula that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Let cool until firm, about 15 minutes. Break into pieces. The brittle can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 weeks.