Pumpkin Seed Brittle
Save the seeds from pumpkin carving to make pumpkin seed brittle, a sweet and spicy fall candy. After carving a few jack-o’-lanterns, I usually have a bucket of seeds. I rinse them to sort out the pulp, spread them on a pan, salt them, and roast them at 300°F until golden brown and just fragrant. Although they’re chewy because they’re still wearing their outer coat, they’re delicious and brittle-worthy. Hulled green pumpkin seeds can usually be found in the Latin or Mexican ingredient aisle of megamarts labeled as “pepitas.” They’re delicious, easy to eat, and can also be used in this application.A note about candy making: Since syrups get really, really thick and can’t be stirred during most of the cooking process, even heat from below is crucial. Heavy pans, especially clad pans, which contain a layer of aluminum or copper in between layers of steel, will even out the heat considerably. But if you don’t trust your pans, or if your stovetop tends to have hotspots, consider employing an additional pan, preferably cast iron, as a heat diffuser. In this case the cast iron goes over the heat and the cooking pan goes onto the cast iron.This recipe first appeared on altonbrown.com.
ACTIVE TIME: 20 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 1 hour 10 minutes
Yield: 4 cups
- 1 teaspoon vegetable oil, plus additional for greasing the pan
- 206 grams hulled pumpkin seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 624 grams sugar
- 1 1/2 cups water
Heat the oil in a 10-inch saute pan over high heat and add the seeds. Toast the seeds, moving the pan constantly, until you smell their aroma and hear some of them begin to crackle, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a small mixing bowl and toss with the cayenne, cinnamon, and salt.
Line a half-sheet pan with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper. Coat the bottom of a second half-sheet pan with vegetable oil.
Set a 3-quart saucier inside a large cast-iron skillet. Add the sugar and water to the saucepan and cook over high heat, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until it comes to a boil. Stop stirring, cover, and cook for 3 minutes. Uncover, reduce heat to medium, and cook until the sugar is a light amber color and reaches 350°F on a digital instant-read thermometer, about 25 minutes.
Remove from the heat and stir in the pumpkin seed mixture. This will greatly reduce the temperature of the sugar, so work quickly. As soon as the seeds are thoroughly incorporated, pour the mixture onto the lined half-sheet pan. Using an oiled spatula, spread it thinly, working quickly before it hardens. Top with the oiled half-sheet pan and press into a single layer. Cool completely, about 30 minutes, then break into pieces. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.