mixed nut brittle, chile, salt


I made a tray of this with a cup of sugar and realized I hadn't warmed enough mixed nuts and dumped in another 50%. What started small turned out a large batch and I could not keep off the tray until the whole pile was gone in three days.

The sugar is heated beyond its endurance. It breaks down and turns into something else, something less sweet. Beyond the candy stages all water is gone the temperature rises rapidly through post candy stages through color stages of caramelized sugar, and here the term means browning and molecule destruction by heat and not the caramel candy that is produced from the same sugar syrup at a much lower temperature, at the second candy stage the firm ball stage 245℉ -- 250℉. No, this caramelization, this browning to the point of burning occurs at 320℉ and upward. The mysterious flavor changes occurring before burning are intriguing, not so sweet as candy, and yet candied, heated beyond the caramelization and pyrolysis become more broken down and stronger, more burnt in flavor and cooked even darker then actually burnt and bitter, too unpleasant to use.

It can be started straight sugar into a pan but I find that it turns to liquid unevenly then the edges turn brown before the pile of sugar is melted. 

It's better to use water that quickly forms a supersaturated syrup that boils off rapidly. It hardly takes any longer. Best to start with syrup then it heats evenly. 

The bubbles stay at 212℉ until the water is nearly gone (210℉ in Denver) then the temperature rises rapidly. Since the water is gone the temperature is not restricted by the limit of boiling water. It rises through the candy stages rapidly. You must stay right there with it. No bathroom breaks, no telephone calls. 




The nuts should be roasted but the sugar is so hot that contact with sugar will do that, mixed around they will cook as they cool the sugar.

It must be pulled apart and disrupted but it is too hot to touch. Using two forks the mass is pulled apart. It cools quickly, meaning the forks can be set down and the cooked sugar handled directly. 

Left alone the mass would form as crystal glass, if pulled while cooling then it will be unable to complete a reliable crystalline structure and that's what you want. Either way works, but this is better to eat. The non-pulled is like shards of glass.


The mixed nuts and sugar have a teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce added and a teaspoon of baking soda is mixed in too that made it foam. Chile flakes and sea salt are pushed onto the sticky surface. Unevenly, and that's part of the intrigue, not knowing what to expect with each piece.

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