As we get closer to October ( and Thanksgiving if you are in Canada ) lovely thoughts of tasty pumpkins in a myriad of shapes and colours come to mind. There are many recipes out there for flavouring and roasting your pumpkin seeds but we are going to step around the entire process of scooping, separating the slimy bits and roasting for this variation on peanut brittle.
Pepita(s) is the term used in Latin and South America for pumpkin seed(s), hulled and often roasted. They are used in salads, pestos and many main course meals such as salmon or mole. Pepitas can be found ready to go in many bulk food/health stores.
This recipe combines the sweetness of the sugar, the deep richness of dark chocolate, the crunchiness of the roasted seeds and the flavourful elements of the salt & spices. As Joane Harris says, “Cooking is the last socially acceptable form of Alchemy” so gather your ingredients and possibly some friends or family and create some edible gold for the candy bowl or trick-or-treat bags.
You will need:
1 1/2 cups white sugar ( Yes, the picture shows brown sugar and we will get to that )
1 cup pepitas
1 – 1 1/2 tsp. Pumpkin Pie Spice
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup good quality ( containing cocoa butter ) chocolate chips
Butter, margarine or other fat for cookie sheet
Shift your focus to the kitchen, release anything keeping you from being here now, take a deep breath in and hold a moment, release. ” In my kitchen filled with care, I welcome, Water, Fire, Earth & Air “.
Begin by greasing your cookie sheet and putting it aside for later. Before starting the brittle portion of the recipe, we need to roast the pumpkin seeds. We can do that by placing the seeds in the same pot that will later be used to melt the sugar. Stir the pumpkin seeds intermittently to ensure there is no burning and keep stirring until you can hear the seeds popping. Once there is steady quiet popping, turn the seeds into a bowl, wipe out the bowl of any “leftovers” and place the sugar in the pot as you return it to a medium heat.
This recipe does not make a large amount of brittle so please use a small to medium sized pot. The smaller the pot, the deeper the depth of the liquid sugar and the more slowly the sugar will turn brown ( heat is also a factor). If you use a pan with a big bottom then the sugar layer will be thinner, will heat more quickly and therefore darken more quickly. That said when the baking soda is added the sugar will bubble up a bit so it is important that a pot is large enough to ensure no bubbling over.
Now melting sugar is one of those, it gets worse before it gets better things. In the beginning it will go from white to lumpy and sticky. You can see in the picture that the sugar is starting to caramelize but it still has lumps. Use your Kitchen Wand to push down on the lumps, breaking then back into their smaller pieces. You may find that lumps attach themselves to your cooking tools but they will melt or break off. Melted sugar is hot so please be careful with your fingers and other places where liquid sugar can burn.
As the sugar continues to be stirred and melts, make sure your spice, pepitas and baking soda are close by.
The baking soda, when added, will create bubbles in the sugar. The air pockets make the brittle easier to bite through.
Once all the sugar is melted and golden colour, add the spices and the pepitas, stirring well. Now sprinkle the baking soda over as much surface as possible. This will activate the soda as quickly as possible. Fresh baking soda will be more active and is suggested. Stir and pour onto the prepared pan. Allow to cool and harden on the tray.
Once the brittle is cold and not before, melt the chocolate either gently over simmering ( not boiling water ) or in the microwave in 10 second intervals. Do not over heat. You will cook the chocolate. My preference for chocolate would be dark but that may be too intense for younger people. There is no reason you can’t use milk or white instead. It is all personal taste.
Once the chocolate is 60-70% melted you can probably melt the rest just by stirring.
Pour the melted chocolate over the brittle and spread out to the edges.
If you know how to temper, go for it! This chocolate is not tempered. I would suggest small batches that can be allowed to cool away from the influence of central heating. What isn’t gobbled up can be stored in the fridge. You can also opt for a chocolate flavoured confectionary coating, which does not need tempering as it has no cocoa butter. Melt, pour, done. Not as rich but it does the job.
Sprinkle the sea salt on top. The amount of salt and variety is up to you. I make this recipe with Malden Salt because I like the visibility of the salt on the chocolate but my preference for taste is Himalayan Pink Salt. It won’t be as visible but has a lovely continual influence on the other flavours.
When I started cooking today, my intention was to try a brown sugar brittle with honey and water. I wanted the flavours of the spices to mix with the molasses undertones of the brown sugar. The more I got into the recipe the more I didn’t like it. So I changed mid way and returned to my old standby for peanut brittle.
Here you can see the difference in the finished products. I love to try new ways of doing things but there is always the possibility of it not working out as a recipe suggests.
This was one of those times. I have never had an issue with my old faithful. A quick and easy autumnal variation on peanut brittle, flavour filled.
A tasty little treat and lovely hostess gift once the chocolate is solid.
Spiced Pumpkin Seed Brittle with Chocolate and Sea Salt from My Kitchen Wand