Before our family was whacked with a bunch of food allergies to corn, peanuts and some tree nuts (among other things), I used to make a terrific almond brittle every holiday season for Christmas and Chanukah gifts to friends and family. It was an easy recipe for brittle, as it only required a microwave and attention to the details and choreography of the timer. No candy thermometer and stovetop drama required, and it was perfectly reliable – the nut brittle came out crunchy, and not sticky or burned, every single time.
Unfortunately, that recipe used corn syrup, along with the now-dangerous-to-us peanuts, almonds or cashews. I figured I could substitute pumpkin seeds for the nuts with no problem. Experiments using honey to replace the corn syrup, however, were spectacularly disastrous – honey foamed much more than corn syrup ever did, and burned more quickly before getting to the hard crack stage. Failtastic!
Luckily for my sweet tooth, I discovered Lyle’s Golden Syrup, made from sugar cane with no corn to mess things up. It’s also very tasty, with a nice almost buttery caramel flavor.
So, I got to work on adapting my old microwave brittle recipe to our new circumstances, and came up with this version, using pumpkin seeds instead of nuts, and Lyle’s Golden Syrup instead of corn syrup. It is calibrated to a 1300 watt microwave, so if you have a different wattage these times will not work as-is. You will have to experiment and test that on your own, but here’s a handy conversion widget I haven’t tested this myself, so your mileage may vary!
RECIPE: MICROWAVE CRUNCHY PUMPKIN SEED BRITTLE
- 1300 Watt Microwave
- Large heatproof and microwave-safe glass bowl
- Cookie sheet, lined with parchment paper or foil
- Heatproof spatula or sturdy large spoon
- Pot holders or oven gloves
- 2 cups raw pumpkin seeds, shelled (aka pepitas)
- ½ cup Lyle’s Golden Syrup
- 1 cup evaporated cane juice crystals
- 1 Tablespoon butter or margarine
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- Extra butter, margarine or non-stick spray for cookie sheet
- Grease or spray the lined cookie sheet and set aside. In large glass bowl, combine the evaporated cane juice crystals and Lyle’s Golden Syrup. Place in center of microwave and cook for 3 ½ minutes on high.
- Quickly remove bowl from microwave and stir in pumpkin seeds. The faster you can do this, the better, as it will get very sticky as it cools. Make sure to work quickly but safely, and to use pot holders to hold the bowl. Return the mixture to the microwave, and cook for 2 ½ minutes on high.
3. Remove bowl again, and quickly stir in the butter and vanilla extract until the butter is totally melted and combined. Return to the microwave, and cook on high again for 1 ½ minutes.
4. Get your prepared cookie sheet ready nearby, and remove the bowl from the microwave. Work fast, and stir in the baking soda. It will cause the mixture to foam up and get nicely bubbly.
5. At this point, make sure you have pot holders to hold the bowl safely. Dump the mixture on the cookie sheet and quickly spread the whole mass in a nice thin layer.
6. Let this cool, in a dry place. If it’s not snowing or raining, you can park it outside to speed cooling, but otherwise the kitchen counter will do – the fridge is a bad move as it will warm the inside too much, and the candy will get a film of condensation that makes it icky. You will have to chase off any snackers at this point, but be vigilant – it takes a while to cool, but it’s worth it.
Once it’s completely cool, you just smash it up and store it in an airtight container. I’ve had lots of success shipping this long distances in tins. If you leave the chunks as big pieces, they can still get jostled by the delivery people and not disintegrate.
The bowl and spatula or spoon will have lots of rock hard candy left that you have to clean off. Never fear, it’s super easy – just soak in water in the sink for a bit and it will all dissolve away with no feats of scrubbing strength needed.