I hate to admit this in print, but I am really sorry I caved and made this irresistible brittle when I knew better. See, usually I can taste a dessert and walk away, but against things crunchy, sweet/salty and filled with nuts and seeds, I am helpless. Truly. As in every time I walk past the dining room where this brittle is cozily sitting in a little tin, I have to grab a piece or two or three...or four!! I could have someone hide the tin from me but I fear they may face an insane pumpkin brittle craving lady and I don't want to scar them for life. And the really bad thing is that this is easy to make and I still have a large bag of pumpkin seeds sitting around, so I know I will be making this again for my extended family in another 2 weeks or so. Yikes! I am so going to have to spend extra time on the treadmill!!
As a kid, the only time you could get pumpkin seeds was on Halloween when you carved a pumpkin or two, waded through the orange goopy mess and emerged triumphant with a bunch of slippery seeds that tasted so amazing after they'd been roasted. Now you can find pumpkin seeds or shelled ones, otherwise known as pepitas, everywhere and that makes for new and exciting eating experiences. When you make this (notice I didn't say if--it's that good) I guarantee that most of your guests will never have tasted pumpkin seed brittle before, but after one bite, they will be extolling the power of the pumpkin and begging you for the recipe.
And it's easy to do. You just have to remember that when you make any sort of brittle or caramel there are a couple of rules to follow. One is to line up all your ingredients because you will often have to work fast. The other and this is non-negotiable, is that you NEVER walk away from the pot because boiling sugar can go from perfect to burned in the blink of an eye and there's no saving it if that happens. You just have to start all over again. If you follow these rules, you'll find yourself with a crunchy, salty/sweet nutty sort of confection that is worlds better than anything you could buy readymade!
And if you give everyone a little baggie of this amazing concoction to take home with them, being thankful on Thanksgiving will take on a whole new meaning!
Thanksgiving Pumpkin Seed Brittle
Makes about 12-16 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes; Cooling Time: 30 minutes
You can definitely make this without a candy thermometer but it really helps to have one for this and other treats too.
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
3 tablespoons water
1 cup raw shelled pumpkin seeds or pepitas
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Vegetable cooking spray
1. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and spray lightly with vegetable cooking spray. Set aside. Set up all your ingredients so they're ready to go. This doesn't take long but things have to happen fast and you need to be prepared.
2. Place the sugar, corn syrup and the water in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir to dissolve the sugar and bring to a boil. Clip candy thermometer to the pan and and cook until it reaches 290ºF. This should take anywhere from 3-7 minutes and you should start to see the mixture barely changing color.
3. Add in the pumpkin seeds, the butter and the kosher salt and stir often, cooking until the mixture reaches 305ºF and turns light brown. This takes 3-4 minutes.
4. Then very quickly and carefully stir in the baking soda and cinnamon. The mixture will bubble up a lot. Just as it begins to subside, pour it onto the prepared sheet and spread it out quickly with a heatproof spatula. Immediately sprinkle with the sea salt and allow to cool and fully harden. Break the sheet into pieces and store in an airtight container for at least a week at room temperature.
Note: Recipe adapted from a 2013 issue of Bon Appetit Magazine.