donut pan idea no. 25: brittle rings

I definitely meant to make these in the coming months, but since the hachaya persimmons I bought last Tuesday for a donut project are STILL ripening in a paper bag in the dark with an apple and some rice, I thought I'd make the brittle now. By the way, if you've got any persimmon ripening tips, let me know, I'm very frustrated!

Brittle rings! Delicious, and really a nice size for a serving of brittle. I made two kinds. Both have pepitas, both are gift-worthy. Brittle is super easy to make, who knew?

I adapted two Martha Stewart recipes for the rings. The first was a pumpkin seed brittle which uses butter and honey, the second was a wonderful sweet-and-smoky brittle, with adobo sauce and cayenne pepper, and my addition of smoked sea salt. David got the smoked salt as part of a birthday gift to use with the sangrita he loves to make (and drink), which is also why we always have a can of chiles en adobo around.

Each recipe yielded eight brittle rings. For the pumpkin seed brittle you will need 1 c. pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds), 1/4 c. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, plus more to grease the pans, 1/2 cup packed brown sugar and 1/4 c. honey. For the sweet-and-smoky brittle, you will need another 1 c. pepitas, 1 c. sugar, 1/4 c. water, 1 tsp. coarse salt (smoked or not), 2 tbsp. adobo sauce, 1 c. nuts (I used unsalted, roasted cashews) and 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper, although next time I'll use a little more. 

You'll also need cooking spray for the smoky brittle pans, and a candy thermometer for both recipes.

I started by tossing the 2 c. of pumpkin seeds with just a drop of olive oil and roasting at 350º for ten minutes, watching and stirring every two minutes to avoid burning. While the pepitas are roasting, butter your pans.

Melt the 1/4 c. butter in a sauce pan over medium heat. Stir in the 1/2 c. brown sugar and 1/4 c. honey. Cook at a low boil for about six minutes without stirring until the thermometer registers 280º (Martha Stewart recipes are really accurate with time/temperature directions)! Stir in the pumpkin seeds and cook another two minutes until your thermometer reaches 300º. Remove from heat and prepare to quickly fill pans.

I used a 1/3 c. measuring cup to scoop about 1/4 c. of the hot liquid sugar mixture into the pans. PLEASE be careful. Do not try to push the brittle around with your finger in any way. It is terribly hot and sticks to you and burns. Maybe I found this out the hard way. Use a spoon if needed, but this mixture is thin enough that if you pour carefully you shouldn't need to corral anything back into the pans.

Let those sit for at least an hour and a half before taking out of the pans. In the meantime, make some more brittle! The sweet-and smoky brittle recipe requires spraying pans with cooking spray or oiling with cooking oil, so do that.

Here's the Maldon sea salt I used. I am fascinated by these flaky crystals! You've got to crush them up a bit when you use it here, but leaving some of the crystals whole is fun, too.

If you follow the Martha Stewart recipe for this brittle, there is no thermometer required. I suggest using one and trying to hit the 280-300º point with the mixture without burning. I didn't hit the hard crack candy stage this time around, so this brittle was a little more grainy than I would've liked. Still delicious (and almost gone less than 24 hours after making)!

Cook 1 c. sugar, 1/4 c. water and 1/2 tsp. coarse salt over high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Continue to cook without stirring on low-medium boil for four (or maybe a few more) minutes until golden. Cook one more minute while swirling the pan on the flame. Carefully stir in the 2 tbsp. adobo and cook for 30 more seconds.

My photographs for much of this day came out horribly. I don't know if it is the changing fall light, or the sheen on my subject matter, but boy, was I surprised when I downloaded my camera. Boo.

Remove the pot from heat, and stir in roasted pepitas and nuts, and 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper. Carefully and quickly spoon mixture into donut pans. Remember, do not touch with your fingers! Sprinkle with remaining salt (or more)! Let these sit for at least an hour to set up.

When the brittle is totally set up, remove the pumpkin seed rings from the pans using a lot of pressure. Using both thumbs, slowly but forcefully start pressing down and in one direction, trying to rotate the brittle in the pan to loosen it. Eventually it's going to start moving, just keep pressing. It is still hard to remove at that point, even though it is disconnected from the pan. I found if I started twirling it quickly and then applied lopsided pressure it would pop out and I could grab it.

The nut-clustery sweet-and-smoky brittle popped out easily and quickly with a gentle twist of a knife.

Aren't they pretty? I am sure any brittle recipe will do great in the pans. This was my first attempt to make brittle and it won't be my last. Easy!

The brittle rings should keep for a few weeks in an airtight container. I cut circles out of parchment paper and layered the rings with a paper circle between each one to keep from sticking to each other. I was thrilled to discover that my donut pan creations fit perfectly inside a Weck jar. Good to know! 

Speaking of my donut pan creations, have you entered the donut pan giveaway I've got going right now? Click HERE to enter. Along with the pans, I'm sending some brittle and other little goodies to the winner. The giveaway closes tonight (Monday) at midnight, and I'll announce the winner on Tuesday. I'd love it if you'd enter!


  1. So pretty and they look delicisous! A great xmas gift too with the jar and a cute ribbon or handmade tag.

    1. Yes, they are totally gift-able! So many other brittle recipes to try for the holiday season, too. Seems like everyone has a grandma with an amazing brittle recipe!


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