A while back one of Sparks’ friends, who was in the area on business, spent the weekend with us. It was a total guy’s-fest, and I was left to cook and clean in the house with the kid, which I guess is what you do sometimes when you manage a household and love your spouse and want him to have a social life. But at the end of the weekend I got hugs and thanks and, as a token gift, some of his birthday chocolate. It happened to be a Trader Joe’s milk chocolate bar with toasted sesame crunch in it.
Yowza. Sweets with nuts and seeds get me at a primal level. Add it to chocolate? And toast it? Ay carumba.
So I have had sesame brittle on the brain, and a few days ago I did something about it.
Recipes for sesame brittle are numerous on the internet. They all agree that you need
1. Sesame seeds
After that, they branch out. Many call for butter to enrich the brittle, for baking soda to lighten it, for salt to give it sparkle, or for vanilla and nutmeg just because.
I am a purist–and I have vague memories of regretting butter in brittle in the past–so I decided to go simple. The only extra I added was salt, because I value salt in my sweets. I used approximately:
1.5 cups sesame seeds
1.25 cup white sugar
1 cup water
.33 cup raw honey
This was too much water, I think. When you cook sugar the beginning part is about cooking the water away, so really you only need to add enough water to dissolve the sugar in the first place. I think half a cup would do fine for these proportions–and save me about fifteen minutes standing by the stove.
I toasted the sesame seeds in a dry skillet first. I’m pretty sure this was unnecessary, because they toast in the hot sugar while you’re waiting for Hard Crack. In any case, my brittle is super-toasty.
So: put it all in a pan over medium heat (if you’re adding any of the extras, besides salt, wait to put those in at the end). If you have a candy thermometer, clip it to the side. Cook until the thermometer is between 275F and 300F, or the mixture is rapidly darkening past “caramel” and into “amber”. Then pour it onto a silicone baking mat and let cool.
I’m so proud of myself when I manage to make candy and it turns out the way I intended. It doesn’t happen all the time, you know?
Internet recipes say that when the mixture is cool, you should cut it with a knife. It is to laugh. I had to go at this with my meat tenderizing hammer. It helped to turn the sheet of candy upside down, so its perfectly flat side wasn’t against the perfectly flat tray while I did it. Helped with breakage and stuff.
Conclusion: it’s good. Burnt and sugary and reeking of toasted sesame. I don’t think I need any of the extras here–though a richer brittle is nice for richer seeds, like peanuts.
As Mimi would say, this recipe gets all ten fingers up.