Although I am specific in my instructions below as to how far to cook the sugar, I always go just beyond that, to almost burning it. Well, the truth is, as you can imagine, that it started out as a mistake but now I do it on purpose: I love the resulting caramel-y, almost chocolately taste.
Makes about ⅔ pound.
1 cup sugar
½ cup water
1 ½ to 2 cups lightly toasted almonds, pecans, or pistachio nuts, or the party nuts of your choice (see Not Your Mother’s Peanut Brittle), chopped or left whole
1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Butter and offset spatula.
2. Place the sugar and water in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan (larger than you imagine you will need), bring to a boil over high hear, and continue to boil until the sugar has dissolved about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until it reaches the hard-crack stage and is cinnamon colored, 300 degrees on a Candy thermometer, 12 to 15 minutes.
3. Quickly stir in the nuts and pour immediately onto the prepared sheet. Using the buttered spatula, spread the brittle as thinly as possible. Set aside to cool completely, then break into large pieces.
4. Store the brittle in an airtight container, where it will keep for 2 to 3 weeks.
From Party Nuts! 50 Recipes for Spicy, Sweet, Savory, and Simply Sensational Nuts That Will Be the Hit of Any Gathering (The Harvard Common Press, 2002)