Tis the season for joy, decorations, lots of food, family and giving. Most people these days have a good sized Christmas shopping list to take care of. You’ve got your immediate family, significant other, siblings, nieces, nephews, co-workers, friends, neighbors, acquaintances….it’s likely quite a list! Then, there is always that person who got you something and you didn’t get them something but now you have to think quick because they’re handing you a present and you have no idea how to dig out of this one gracefully.
Well, what if I told you that there is an awesome one-size fits all option that will knock out a solid half of your Christmas list and it comes with a homemade touch? It can even be make last minute or say, Christmas eve day before you head to that evening party you don’t have a hostess gift for! What to get the guy who has everything? Food. Stocking stuffers for the kids? Food. Co-workers, neighbors, that person who got you a gift and you didn’t get them one? Food. Food is a universally accepted amazing gift that, when homemade, has a perfect thoughtful holiday gifting touch!
I count my blessings this time of year because I truly enjoy cooking and being in the kitchen and homemade goodies are always well received! I’ve always tried to make as many of my gifts as I can. Homemade notecards, scarves, loaves of bread, cookies in a jar. Well, this year mum and I decided to try a new recipe from a friend of hers that has used it the past few years. We made pecan brittle, or candied pecans, or whatever it is you’d like to officially call it. It’s a buttload of butter and sugar mixed together with pecans. It’s Christmas crack. It’s sugary, crunchy, melty, yummy, addictive and down right deviously delicious. And yes, I did say a buttload. It was pretty fun actually, we spent a weekend making these addictive morsels, Cranberry Grand Marnier Cake Muffins and Canned 48 jars of Cranberry Jelly. It was a gift making extravaganza!
These little guys hit it out of the park. They were THE perfect gift that had the thoughtful, homemade touch but could be made in larger quantities to check multiple people off the list. It’s actually a pretty easy recipe, when you start getting into candy thermometers it’s out of my league and attention span. The only thing to note about this recipe, which we learned the hard way, was that you can’t just double it or make batch after batch without cleaning the pan. Because you’re basically making caramel if you try to make a new batch with residue from the previous recipe it just messes everything up. Don’t ask me how or why… I didn’t major in science but just take it from us and quickly wash the pan after each batch, okay?!
Candied Pecans// Pecan Brittle
8 tablespoons butter (one stick)
1 cup sugar
3 cups of pecan halves
Line a baking skeet with parchment paper and set the baking sheet to the side of stove top.
We used a stainless stele copper-clad bottom 10-inch skillet but a cast iron skillet would have worked better. Heat your pan over medium low heat. A fork works best to stir the butter and sugar mixture, and fold in pecans.
Once pan is fully heated, add 3 tablespoons of the butter and stir until melted. Add the full 1 cup of sugar to the melted butter and continue to stir until the mixture is pale and thoroughly mixed (no butter chunks or large chunks of sugar). Constantly stir the mixture, which should be thickening, so you don’t burn the butter or the sugar.
Add the 3 cups of pecan halves and fold into the mixture. Continue to cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly.
Watch for the mixture to bubble, and at that point it should start to turn a golden-brown color similar to toffee.
This process takes about 6-9 minutes to see the toffee color. Be patient and make sure you cook the long enough so you don’t have clumps or sugar or butter.
You will start to see clarified butter separating from the mixture and this indicates that they’re done.
Remove skillet from heat. Tilt the pan and spoon out the clarified butter (or tilt the pan and scoop out the mixture to the prepared parchment lined baking sheet. Using two forks, quickly separate the pecan halves and make sure they are all laying flat.
Let the candied pecans cool completely. Break pecan mixture into small pieces and package or store in an airtight container.
These are a nice snack but are also amazing to sprinkle in salads, add to roasted beets, used when baking seasonal bread or as part of a cheese plate. You could use them as a pancake, waffle or ice cream topping or even crush a few on top of cheese cake. Are there other ways that you use candied pecans or could think of to enjoy pecan brittle?