Last week was rough. I won't go into details but I will tell you that I wanted candy. I don't even really eat candy. I didn't even eat this candy after I made it. It just made me happy to see other people eating it.
The truth is, I have always been a little intimidated by sugar. When I was in cooking school, one of the pastry kitchens was through a glass wall next to ours. I would occasionally look over to see what was going on because there was always some kind of drama. Mostly in the form of screaming and squeals of delight. A totally different world from the savory side of things, to say the least. Tempering chocolate, spinning sugar, timing, precision, patience...not exactly my forte.
But something came over me and I decided f... it. I can do this. And, of course, I did and it was no big deal. Mostly because I chose a particularly easy place to start (chocolate bark?) but, my point is, generally speaking, everything is within your reach. You just have to try.
Serve the brittle and bark with some ice cream and maybe a glass of port.
spiced cashew brittle and chocolate crunch bark
adapted from Bryce Caron of Blackbird in Chicago
1 1/2 c lightly salted and roasted cashews
1 c sugar
1/2 c light corn syrup
1 stick of butter, cut up
1/4 c water
1/2 t baking soda
1/4 t crushed urfa or aleppo pepper
Preheat oven to 325º
The original recipe calls for raw cashews but I didn't have any so I improvised. I liked the slight saltiness the roasted cashews add to the brittle so I thought no harm, no foul. I did warm up the cashews in the oven for a few minutes but you really need to watch them carefully. If you chose to start with raw, toast the nuts for about 10 minutes and keep them warm.
Line a rimmed baking sheet with buttered parchment paper. Bring the sugar, corn syrup, butter and water to a boil in a saucepan.
Turn down the heat to medium-high and continue to watch and stir until it turns a deep amber color. This should take about 10 minutes but it could take longer depending on how high you have the heat. I like to take it slow because I have burned more than my fair share of sugar before. When it is the right and most beautiful shade of amber, take the pot off the heat and carefully whisk in the baking soda and pepper.
Using a wooded spoon, stir in the warm cashews and coat them evenly with the toffee.
Pour the mixture onto the prepared backing sheet in as even a layer as you can get. Let it cool completely before breaking it into shards.
Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silpat.
Make a double boiler by placing a stainless steel bowl over a saucepan of simmering water.
Melt 2/3 of the chocolate, stirring until the chocolate reaches 130º. Remove the bowl from the pan and stir in the remaining chocolate until melted and the temperature drops to 80º. Return to the heat (double boiler style) and bring temp up to 90º. Remove from the heat and stir in the rice krispies. Spread the mixture in an even layer about 1/4" thick. Let it cool completely before break it into "bark". Store in an air-tight container in the fridge.