Monday, December 21, 2009

Major Flavor from Minor’s Pecan Brittle

All other brittle I’ve encountered before feature peanuts. I like this one best because it contains another Southern flavor, pecans. Using whole pecans and butter and pushing the caramelization temperature to 310o, instead of 295o as suggested in the nut brittle recipe found in the 1963 version of the Joy of Cooking cookbook, promises meatier nut per bite and lends a deeper and richer, almost smoky, flavor that makes this one of my Christmastime favorite treats.

Handed down to me many Christmases ago by a lifelong Alabama resident, Helen Minor, I look forward to making the first batch of the season shortly after Thanksgiving. Mrs. Minor, now in her mid 80s, lives with her daughter and son in-law in a modern cabin constructed on the mountaintop property once operated as an apply orchard by her father. I hope you enjoy making - and eating - this brittle as much as I do.

Do’s & Don’ts

  • Do have at the ready: a candy thermometer, buttered cookie sheet, and an extra set of hands to hold the thermometer in the pot towards the last minutes of caramelization.
  • Do utilize the winter air to help cool the brittle quicker. Allow to cool on the patio table and you’ll be enjoying the brittle sooner.
  • Don’t substitute sugar with another low calorie substitute (i.e. Splenda). It won’t caramelize the same. Light Karo syrup is now available and works just as well as regular syrup.
  • Don’t expect to cut out additional calories by using wax paper in lieu of a buttered sheet. You’ll be unsuccessfully peeling paper that will stuck to the bottom of the brittle. Instead, if you must, consider any of the low cholesterol, vegetable-based options that cook just like butter.
  • Don’t mistake baking powder for baking soda. This last one I learned the hard way.


  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup Karo syrup
  • 12 ounce raw whole pecans
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 ½ Tablespoon butter, softened
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ teaspoon baking soda

Mix sugar, Karo syrup, pecans and water in saucepan, stir continuously and vigorously with wooden spoon over high heat, to 310o. This will take several minutes.

Remove from heat immediately. Have butter, vanilla and baking soda measured and ready before cooking candy. As soon as candy is removed from heat, add these ingredients. Stir well until blended. Pour onto well buttered pan. Spread as thin as possible, let cool. Break into pieces. Enjoy!

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