Many years ago I had a Home Economics teacher who took great glee in scaring a roomful of twelve year olds off ever entering a kitchen. Anything and everything was a source of potential death, disease or disfigurement in this most dangerous of rooms. She left me nervous of many things, but none more so than hot sugar. But Nigella’s recipe for pumpkinseed brittle sounded so delicious, I decided to apparently risk life and limb and try making caramel for the first time…
I was slightly disappointed to discover just how easy and safe this was. I added the water, sugar and cream of tartar to a non-stick pan and brought it to the boil, resisting the temptation to stir or poke at the lovely bubbles forming as the sugar melted. Ten minutes or so of watching the pot to see if it will boil followed, before the sugar mixture started to turn golden brown. Once it did I added my gorgeously green seeds and the few home-roasted ones I had from the pumpkin for the gnocchi and coated them well with the caramel mixture. I then poured this out onto a baking tray covered with baking parchment and spread it as evenly as I could and left it to cool. It looked glorious and no part of me had sustained burns of any kind!
The brittle looked absolutely stunning with inviting nuggets of green gorgeousness nestled in shimmering sugar and it was torture to leave it long enough to set before sampling the crunchy deliciousness. Luckily the caramel set much more quickly than I expected and it was only about 2 hours before I could break a piece off and sample it. Unsurprisingly it is very sweet, but the oiliness and texture of the pumpkin seeds cut through and stop it being sickly. It made a delicious light (and appropriate) dessert after the pumpkin gnocchi.
This recipe (also found on page 131 on Feast) does make acres of brittle, but it keeps well kept somewhere cool and dark so it can be made well in advance if you don’t fancy getting scary with sugar around dinner guests! It is surprisingly easy to make and is a good route into playing around with molten sugar in the future. Between the crunchy texture of the brittle and my new desire to heat sugar, I don’t expect to have teeth for much longer!