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One of my annual holiday traditions for the past nine or ten years has been making candies and chocolates for friends, family and colleagues.
This tradition started when I worked for TV Guide Canada and was asked to bring a dessert for a Christmas potluck lunch. Since I don't have an oven in my apartment (and rather than pawning off a store-bought dessert), I decided to see if I could make a no-bake dessert. I ended up buying a candy cookbook and decided to make mocha fudge, truffles and chocolate coconut haystacks. I enjoyed making these chocolates and candies so much that I've made them every year since.
I switch up some of the recipes I make every once in a while, but one candy that is requested by family and friends every year is pecan brittle. The recipe I use from Who Wants Candy? is buttery, sweet (in a good way) and totally addictive. You can switch the pecans for whatever nuts you like, but I think that the buttery texture of pecans goes well with the brittle. (Note: I would strongly recommend using a candy thermometer for this recipe and any candy recipe that requires the sugar mixture to reach a specific temperature.)
3 cups of pecans (or whatever nuts you prefer), broken into small pieces
2 cups of granular sugar
1 cup of light corn syrup
1/2 cup of water
1 cup of unsalted butter
1 teaspoon of baking soda
Grease 2 large baking sheets
In a large, heavy pot over medium heat, bring the sugar, corn syrup and water to a boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves and the mixture begins to boil.
When the mixture reaches a full, rolling boil, stir in the butter until melted.
Reduce heat slightly to medium-low, maintaining a medium boil.
Cook, stirring frequently, to soft crack stage (280F).
Stir in nuts and cook, stirring frequently, to hard crack stage (300F).
Remove from heat and stir in the baking soda until well-blended.
Quickly pour the mixture onto the greased baking sheets, spreading evenly across both pans.
Cool and break into pieces.
Store in an airtight container.