Pine - what - garlic - huh?
There's a story. It starts with nut brittle, which is a big favorite of mine. Peanut brittle is really easy to make. Sugar, corn syrup, nuts, cooked to emergency-room-hot, add a bit of baking soda to lighten up the hard candy and spread to cool. It's great and with mixed nuts, even better.
Through a couple of errors, I ended up with two bags of pine nuts (that is to say, I forgot I had a new bag when I bought the second one). What do you do with three pounds of pine nuts? I thought, "pine nut brittle!" As I began to congratulate myself on how brilliant I was, the search engine revealed that not only had someone done it before, it is a standard in Italy (of course — they invented everything, including most of what the French pretend they invented), where they call it crocante.
I made a split batch. They're both really good. So good, in fact that I will admit that to get the photo below, I had to put a small prep bowl upside down into the serving bowl, underneath the candy, so it would not look nearly empty.
The garlic is the weirder of the two but curiously addictive (in fact, Kathy seems to like it as I note that right now, the garlic one is gone and a few nibbles of bacon remain). Recipe follows.Bacon or Garlic Pine Nut Brittle
- A great place to get pine nuts is Costco. Keep them in the freezer (they come in a ziptop resealable bag) and they will last forever.
- Microwave times vary. Adjust accordingly.
- I missed the butter that is used in my normal nut brittle so I have added it to the recipe but I haven't actually tested it this way. If you crave the safety of a tested recipe, omit the butter. If you crave the butter, you're my kind of people.
- You can make Bacon or Garlic Pine Nut Brittle. I made a split batch, half of each.
- You can also make plain old, good old crocante by omitting both the bacon and the garlic.
2 cups raw pinenuts
1 cup sugar
1 pinch kosher salt
½ cup light corn syrup
1 teaspoon baking soda
1-2 tbsp butter, see note
USE one of the following:
6 thin slices bacon, chopped
or 2-3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed through garlic press
1. If making the bacon version: Start with a cool frying pan, render the bacon pieces over low heat until almost (but not quite) crispy. Place on paper towels and allow to cool. Reserve ½ teaspoon of the rendered bacon fat.
If making garlic: Mince garlic or pass through a garlic press. Set aside.
2. For both versions:
In a 2 qt. microwave-safe bowl (preferably glass, with a handle, no lid needed), stir together nuts, sugar, salt, and corn syrup. Microwave at high setting, uncovered, for three minutes, stir. Microwave again until mixture is light brown (about three minutes more).
3. Meanwhile, prepare cookie sheet to receive the hot brittle by either greasing it with butter, or lining it with parchment, non-stick foil, or a silicone baking mat (such as the Silpat). You must have this ready to go when the mixture is ready.
4. Using oven mitts, remove mixture and add the butter with the garlic, or the bacon pieces and the ½ teaspoon of reserved fat. Stir well to combine. Microwave again for 1 minute, until the mixture is caramel colored (see the picture — that is as dark as you want to go and a little lighter is ok).
Work quickly, the mixture hardens rapidly. Remove from microwave, add baking soda. Stir quickly until light and foamy and the foam is evenly mixed in. Pour mixture onto cookie sheet and use the back of a spoon or a silicone spatula to spread out as quickly as possible. (Brittle will be fairly thick.)
5. Let stand for 30 minutes (yeah, right). Break into pieces and serve. Store in an airtight container up to 2 weeks (yeah, right).