Homemade candy is more satisfying than store-bought confections with a long list of additives. Crafted in my kitchen, this brittle recipe is loaded with pumpkin seeds and has a depth of flavor that takes it beyond a traditional sugar and nut mixture. Maybe best of all, it is aerated so that it is easy to chew.
If you are intimidated by candy recipes, rest assured that I once was too. For many years, my only experience was an adventure in taffy making with my father that ended with small bits of toffee colored sugar stuck to our ceiling. I can safely say that preparation is key to avoiding such a mishap. Other than that, all you need is an instant read thermometer and some confidence. Let’s make some candy.
½ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons honey
¼ cup water
1 cup hulled pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
3 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon paprika
¾ teaspoon baking soda
Brittle is easier to make when you know exactly what to expect, particularly since aeration of the candy results in so much foam you might think you made a mistake. I recommend reading through the recipe a few times before you begin.
Since you will be adding ingredients to the cooked sugar once it reaches certain temperatures, plan ahead by measuring them and setting them within arm’s reach. When your kitchen movements have a good flow, the process is easier and more enjoyable. This pumpkin seed confection may disappear from your counter rather quickly, and you want to make sure you can whip up another batch.
Begin by preparing a large baking sheet. Cover it with parchment and lightly cover with cooking spray. Also spray an offset spatula and set aside.
Add the granulated sugar, brown sugar, honey, and water to a medium saucepan. Measure out the rest of the ingredients and set them aside individually.
Bring the sugar mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally to combine the ingredients. Do not stir once it begins to boil. Reduce heat slightly and continue cooking until the mixture reaches 290 degrees on an instant read or candy thermometer. Check the temperature frequently.
Next add the butter, salt, vanilla extract, and pumpkin seeds, stirring into the mixture until well-combined. The additional ingredients will lower the temperature of the sugar mixture.
Continue cooking until the mixture reaches 300 degrees. Remove from the heat and stir in the paprika and baking soda, which will create lots of foam. Immediately pour the mixture onto the prepared parchment paper, and use the spatula to spread it while still foaming. Sprinkle with additional kosher salt if desired. Since the candy begins to harden rather quickly, it must be spread quickly to distribute the pumpkin seeds evenly and then left undisturbed.
Allow the brittle to cool completely before breaking into pieces.