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Edible Gifts: Nut Brittles

Making homemade gifts... especially during the holiday season... is a great way of teaching true values to children. It teaches the value and values and the importance of putting part of oneself into each gift to make it truly from the heart. It also teaches them the art of being frugal.

Follow the recipes below for some wonderful homemade gifts. [Of Note: some people are sensitive or allergic to nuts and nut products. This sensitivity can be quite serious, even to the point of causing death in some extreme cases. Please list the ingredients in homemade gifts on an attached card so that people can see what was used in your creation.]

Nut Brittle Recipe

1-1/2 cups sugar
1 cup water
1 tsp. water
1 cup light corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 tablespoons margarine or butter
1-1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 cup shelled unroasted unsalted peanuts, walnuts or macadamia nuts

Turn oven on at 200 F. for approximately 30 minutes, turn off when oven is warm. Butter 2 cookie sheets, 15.5" x 12 "; keep warm in oven. Mix baking soda, 1 tsp. water and the vanilla in small bowl; reserve. In 3 qt. saucepan combine sugar, 1 cup water and corn syrup. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, to 240 F. on candy thermometer. Stir in margarine and nuts. Cook, stirring constantly on med. low heat, to 300 F. on candy thermometer, (watch carefully so mixture does not burn). Immediately remove from heat; stir in baking soda mixture making sure to blend completely. Remove cookie sheets from oven and pour half the mixture onto each sheet, quickly spread to form about 1/4 thickness. Cool completely before breaking into pieces.

Hickory Nut Brittle

2 cups sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1 cup water
1 tablespoon butter
2 cups chopped hickory nuts
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Butter two 15 x 10 x 1-inch baking sheets; set aside. In a heavy 3-quart saucepan combine sugar, corn syrup and water. Cook and stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Continue cooking until mixture boils; stir in butter. Continue cooking, without stirring, to 230*F (110*C). Then cook and stir to 280*F (135*C). Stir in nuts; cook, stirring constantly to 300*F (150*C). Remove pan from heat. Quickly stir in baking soda and vanilla, mixing well. Immediately pour into prepared baking sheets, spreading candy to an even thickness. As candy cools, stretch it thinner by lifting and pulling with 2 forks. Break candy into pieces when cool. Makes about 2 pounds. Note: If hickory nuts are not available in your area, substitute filberts or walnuts.


1 pound blanched whole almonds
1/4 cup cider vinegar
2 cups plus 1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 to 3/4 teasp ground red pepper (cayenne)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Place almonds in 15 1/2 x 10 1/2-inch jelly-roll pan. Bake 10 to 15 minutes until golden brown, shaking pan occasionally. Cool almonds in pan on wire rack. While almonds cool, in heavy 3-quart saucepan, heat vinegar and 2 cups sugar to boiling over medium heat. Continue cooking over medium heat until mixture turns dark amber in color, 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. (If using a thermometer, temperature should read about 360 degrees F.) Meanwhile, in small bowl, mix salt, cumin, coriander, ground red pepper, and remaining 1 tablespoon sugar. Lightly grease large cookie sheet. Remove saucepan from heat. Stir spice mixture into hot sugar syrup. Add almonds, and stir until evenly coated. Immediately pour mixture onto cookie sheet. With 2 forks, spread almond mixture to form a single layer. Cool brittle completely on cookie sheet on wire rack. With hands, break brittle into small pieces. Store in tightly covered jar or tin for up to a month. Yield: About 1 3/4 pound

Microwave Nut Brittle

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup corn syrup
1 1/2 cup chopped nuts
1 tbsp butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda

Please be careful as the mixture will be very hot from the microwave. In 8-cup glass measure or heavy glass casserole, combine sugar and corn syrup. Microwave, uncovered, at high for 4 minutes. Stir in nuts and microwave at high for 3 to 5 minutes, or until mixture is light brown. Quickly stir in butter, vanilla, and baking soda until light and foamy. Spread as thinly as possible on lightly-buttered baking sheet. Let cool about 1 hour, then break into pieces. Store in air-tight container. Makes about 1 pound.

Cashew-Nut Brittle

1 1/2 c roasted unsalted cashews or peanuts
1/2 c light corn syrup
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking soda

Line baking sheet or shallow baking pan with foil. Butter foil and metal spatula, set aside. Combine nuts, sugar, corn syrup and salt in a 6-cup microwave-safe bowl. Cook, uncovered, 4 minutes on High, stir well and cook 4 minutes longer on High. Mixture will be boiling. Stir in butter and vanilla. Microwave on High 2 minutes. Add baking soda and stir until light and foamy. Quickly pour into prepared pan. Spread to about 1/4 inch thickness with spatula. Let cool, then break into pieces. Store in airtight container. Makes 1 pound.


1 cup sugar
1/2 cup white corn syrup
1/4 cup water
3/4 cup whole macadamia nuts
1/2 cup macadamia nuts, chopped
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon baking soda

Butter two cookie sheets. Place in warm oven. Mix sugar, corn syrup and water in a saucepan. Cook over med. heat, stirring occasionally, until syrup reaches the soft ball stage, 240 degrees on a candy thermometer. Stir in macadamia nuts and butter. Cook, stirring constantly, until thermometer reaches 300 degrees and syrup is brown in color. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and baking soda. Pour half of the candy onto each cookie sheet and quickly spread about 1/4 inch thick. When cool, break into pieces and store in a tightly covered tin. Note: Warming the cookie sheets helps the candy to spread into thin layers.


1 C. granulated sugar
1/2 C. light corn syrup
1/8 tsp. salt
2 C. pecan or cashew pieces
1 tsp. butter or margarine
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. baking soda

Microwave instructions: In a greased 2-quart glass measure, cook sugar, corn syrup and salt on HIGH for 2 to 3 minutes until boiling. Cook 4 minutes. Stir in nuts, butter, vanilla extract and cinnamon. Cook 2 minutes. Immediately stir in baking soda until light and foamy. Quickly pour onto small greased cookie sheet and spread. Cool and break into pieces. Makes 1 pound.


1 1/2 tsp. Tabasco Sauce
1/4 tsp. ground allspice
1 1/4 C. dry-roasted peanuts
1 C. granulated sugar
1/2 C. light corn syrup
1 tsp. butter or margarine
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda

Lightly coat spatula and large baking sheet with cooking spray; set aside. Combine Tabasco and allspice in large bowl. Add peanuts and toss well. Combine sugar and corn syrup in 2-quart microwavable bowl. Microwave on HIGH (100 percent) for 4 minutes. Remove from microwave and stir thoroughly. Add peanuts; stir again. Microwave again on HIGH (100 percent) for 5 minutes until light brown. Remove bowl from microwave. Add butter and vanilla extract. Blend. Microwave again on HIGH (100 percent) for 30 to 60 seconds. Remove bowl from microwave. Gently stir in baking soda until well mixed and foamy. Pour onto greased baking sheet. Cool. Break into pieces. Makes about 1 pound. Tip: As brittle cools on baking sheet, stretch it into thin sheet by pulling candy with two forks. Stretching will help make it crisp.


2 C. granulated sugar
1 C. dark brown sugar, packed
1/2 C. light corn syrup
1/2 C. water
1/4 C. chile (half habanero and half dried ground chipotles)
1/8 tsp. salt
1/4 C. soft butter or margarine
1/8 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 C. whole piones, peanuts, cashews or coarsely chopped pecans, walnuts or brazil nuts

Boil together the sugars, corn syrup, water, chile and salt until the mixture reaches hard crack stage (300F on a candy thermometer). Stir the mixture only until the sugar is dissolved so it doesn't scorch. Add the butter and baking soda, stirring until the mixture foams up. Add nuts and quickly stir them in. Pour the mixture onto a greased heat-proof flat pan. Spread the mixture until it is very thin. Loosen from the sheet before it cools and hardens. Break into crude pieces.


1 C. sugar
1/4 C. water
2 T. espresso beans, crushed with a rolling pin or chopped in a food processor to medium-fine crumbs
2 T. butter
Pinch salt

Line a baking sheet with kitchen parchment and spray the parchment with nonstick cooking spray or grease it lightly. In a medium heavy-based saucepan, combine the sugar and water. Heat over high heat, swirling the pot occasionally (don't stir it) for even color, until it turns light amber. Add the crushed espresso beans (don't worry if the sugar seems to foam), swirl them around in the caramel, and continue to cook until the caramel turns brown. Remove the pan from the heat. Carefully whisk in the butter and salt (the butter will sputter). Immediately pour the brittle onto the prepared baking sheet, quickly tilting the baking sheet to get the brittle to flow into a thin layer (be careful--the brittle is very hot). As it cools and slows down, use a metal spatula to spread it into an even thinner layer. Let cool. Chop two-thirds of the cooled brittle into small pieces by sealing it in a plastic bag and smashing it with a mallet or rolling pin. Sift the crumbs in a strainer if you don't want the powder. Break the remaining brittle into shards and use them to garnish bowls of the ice cream. NOTES: When you add the crushed coffee beans to hot caramel, the caramel will foam and spurt. Just keep swirling the pan until the caramel turns brown. Tilting the baking sheet while the brittle is hot encourages it to spread. Use a metal spatula to spread it even thinner for a more delicate crunch.


1 1/2 C. sesame seed
1 C. sugar
1 C. dark corn syrup
1/4 C. water
2 T. butter or margarine
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 C. finely chopped crystallized ginger

Toast sesame seed in shallow pan in a moderate oven (350F) for 15 minutes. Butter a 15 x 10 x 1-inch jellyroll pan. Combine sugar, syrup, water and butter in a saucepan. Bring to boiling, stirring constantly. Lower heat without stirring, until mixture reaches 300F on a candy thermometer or until mixture when dropped in cold water, separates into threads which are hard and brittle. Remove from heat, stir in sesame seed, baking soda and ginger. Pour into prepared pan, spread evenly. Let cool and break into pieces. Store in tightly covered container.


1/2 C. dried banana slices
1/2 C. coconut
1 C. granulated sugar
1/2 C. light corn syrup
1 (3 1/2 oz.) jar macadamia nuts
1 tsp. butter or margarine
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. baking soda

Butter a cookie sheet. Sprinkle banana slices and coconut in 12-inch circle on buttered cookie sheet. In 1 1/2-quart microwave-safe casserole or 8-cup measuring cup, combine sugar and corn syrup. Microwave on HIGH for 4 minutes. Stir in macadamia nuts. Microwave on HIGH for 4 to 6 minutes or until golden brown. Stir in butter and vanilla extract; blend well. Microwave on HIGH for I minute. Add baking soda and stir gently until light and foamy. Quickly pour in thin stream over bananas and coconut on cookie sheet. Let cool 30 minutes. Break into 30 (2-inch) pieces.


2 C. honey
4 T. butter
1/2 to 1 C. pecan or cashew halves

Put honey and butter into a saucepan rinsed with cold water. Bring to a boil or until mixture holds together when dropped into cold water. Beat until it begins to lose its gloss; add nuts. Pour into well-buttered glass pan and cut or break into bits of brittle before mixture completely hardens.


1 1/2 C. miniature jelly beans
3 C. granulated sugar
1 C. light corn syrup
1/2 C. water
3 T. real butter
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt

Line a large rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Coat foil with nonstick cooking spray. Spread the jelly beans evenly over the foil. In a very large saucepan, combine the sugar, corn syrup, and water. Bring to a boil over medium heat, without stirring, boil for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the syrup begins to turn golden and reaches the hard crack stage (see Note). Remove from the heat and immediately stir in the butter, baking soda, and salt (the mixture will foam). Continue stirring for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the mixture is shiny. Pour over the jelly beans and spread quickly with a spatula that has been coated with nonstick cooking spray. Allow to cool completely, then invert onto a clean work surface. Remove the foil, then break into bite-size pieces. Serve, or store in an airtight container. NOTE: To determine the hard crack stage, drop a bit of the mixture from a teaspoon into a glass of cold water. If it hardens and forms strands in the water, then it has reached the hard crack stage. If not, continue to cook the mixture, then test it again after a bit.


1 C. light brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 C. maple sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 C. water
1 C. broken nut meats
2 T. butter

Boil the sugar and water to the stiff ball stage (246F). Add butter; cook to the brittle stage (290 to 300F). Add the vanilla and salt; pour over the nut meats which have been placed on a buttered pan. When cold, break into pieces.


2 1/2 C. granulated sugar
1/4 C. light corn syrup
1 tsp. shredded orange peel
1/2 C. orange juice
2 T. butter or margarine
1 (3 1/2 oz.) can flaked coconut

Butter sides of heavy 3 quart saucepan. In it combine sugar, corn syrup, orange peel and orange juice. Cook over medium heat. Cook to hard crack stage (300F), stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Stir in butter. Pour in thin layer on buttered 15 x 10 1/2 x 1-inch jellyroll pan or platter. Sprinkle coconut all over. When cool, crack into pieces. Makes 1 1/4 pounds of brittle.


2 C. granulated sugar
1 C. light corn syrup
1/2 C. water
1 1/2 C. raw sunflower seeds, roasted
1 T. butter or margarine
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. baking soda

Butter a 15 x 10 x 1-inch baking pan. Butter the sides of a large heavy saucepan. Add sugar, corn syrup and water; bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Cook and stir over medium-low heat until a candy thermometer reads 260F (hardball stage). Stir in sunflower seeds and butter. Cook over medium heat to 300F (hard-crack stage). Remove from the heat; vigorously stir in vanilla extract and baking soda. Pour into a buttered 15 x 10 x 1-inch baking pan; spread evenly to fill pan. Cool completely. Break into pieces. Store in an airtight container with wax paper between layers.


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