Mark Bittman schooled me on how to make peanut brittle back in December of 2006. Employing his trademark Minimalist approach and recipe, I somehow managed to transform sugar, peanuts, and a little salt into shards of magical candy, all without burning myself. I was so happy with my brittle-making efforts that my grandfather received a box full of the sweet stuff for Christmas that year.
The brittle bug bit me again this week as I was figuring out what treat to make for this Saturday’s (April 2) city-wide Bakesale for Japan. After coordinating three Eat My Blog events, I have a pretty good sense of the kinds of desserts people love to buy. Cupcakes are always big sellers, as are Crack Pies and anything containing bacon. I toyed with making cupcakes for a long while, but the warm weekend forecast didn’t agree with the cream cheese frosting I had in mind. Since candy performs extremely well under sunny skies, I decided to go with bacon almond brittle. Oh, yes.
This recipe, which I adapted from I Love Bacon by Jayne Rockmill, encompasses everything I desire in a dessert. It’s sweet, salty, smoky, and plain addictive. In addition to toasted almonds and crisp bacon, the brittle is scattered with crushed peppercorns. The gentle rush of spice lingers on the palate, adding depth and intrigue to the brittle. For a hit of bacon goodness in every bite, go ahead and use up to six slices. It’s a little excessive, but no one will mind. Promise.
- 4 to 6 slices of good quality bacon
- 2 cups salted dry-roasted almonds, toasted and coarsely chopped
- 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons water
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes, at room temperature
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 salt
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed pink peppercorns
Cut the bacon into bite-sized pieces. Place the pieces in a large saute pan and cook over medium heat until crispy, about 10 minutes. Drain on paper towel-lined plate and set aside. Line a baking sheet with a Silpat, waxed paper, or parchment paper—set aside. Combine salt, baking soda, and pepper—set aside.
In a large saucepan, combine the sugar, corn syrup, and water. Cook this mixture on medium-high heat for about 4 minutes, or until the sugar turns thick and syrupy. Slowly add the softened butter and continue stirring until the mixture emulsifies. Keep cooking and stirring until all the water has boiled off and mixture is golden brown, between 300°F (150°C) and 320°F (160°C). Use a candy thermometer or eyeball it, about 10 to 13 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat. If the mixture is not smooth, whisk until it is smooth. Stir in the baking soda, salt, peppercorns, crispy bacon bits, and almonds. Quickly but carefully pour the brittle onto the prepared baking sheet.
Once the brittle has cooled and hardened, break it into bite-sized pieces or larger chunks. Store in a tightly sealed container for up to 1 week.
Makes 3 pounds Bacon Almond Brittle.
I will be making several batches of Bacon Almond Brittle for this Saturday’s city-wide Bakesale for Japan. To get your hands on ’em, swing by the Pasadena sale at the Chefs Center of California, 45 N. San Gabriel Boulevard.
Other bakesale locations around Los Angeles include Black Cat Bakery (519 S. Fairfax Ave.), Forage (3823 West Sunset Blvd.), Angeli Caffe (7274 Melrose Ave.), BLD (7450 Beverly Blvd.), Brentwood Country Mart (225 26th St.), and Akasha (9543 Culver Blvd.).
For national locations, check out the official Bakesale for Japan website!