Praline Nut Brittle from Alice Medrich
This nut brittle is from Alice Medrich’s Flavor Floursand is a component in her Sorghum Layer Cake with Walnut Praline Buttercream.
Excerpted from Flavor Flours: A New Way to Bake with Teff, Buckwheat, Sorghum, Other Whole & Ancient Grains, Nuts & Non-Wheat Floursby Alice Medrich. Published by Artisan Books Copyright ©2014. Photographs by Leigh Beisch.
Chopped, crushed, or pulverized, caramelized nuts (“praline” in the world of French pastry) are a secret weapon for adding flavor and crunch to all kinds of plain or fancy desserts: use them as a garnish for creamy or soft desserts, or fold them into ice creams, buttercream, whipped cream, or pastry cream. Praline is versatile, flavor intense, and simple to make. You can substitute any nut or make a half recipe if you like. Do not use a nonstick pan; the melted sugar will ruin it.
Baking sheet, lined with foil or parchment
- 1 cup water
- ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
- 2 cups (400 grams) sugar
- 2⅔ cups (175 grams) coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans
- Have the lined baking sheet ready near the stove, along with a skewer or a very small knife and a small white plate to test the color of the syrup. Pour the water into a 2- or 3-quart saucepan over medium heat and sprinkle in the cream of tartar. Add the sugar, pouring it in a thin stream into the center of the pot to form a low mound. Don’t stir, but if necessary use your fingers to pat the sugar mound down until it is entirely moistened. Any sugar touching the edges of the pan should be below the waterline.
- Cover the pot and cook for a few minutes, without stirring, until the sugar is dissolved. Uncover the pan and cook without stirring until the syrup begins to color slightly. Swirl the pot gently rather than stirring if the syrup seems to be coloring unevenly.
- Use the skewer or the tip of the knife to drop a bead of syrup on the plate from time to time. When a drop looks pale amber, add the nuts and turn them gently with a clean, dry wooden spoon or silicone spatula just until they are completely coated with syrup. (Brisk stirring will cause the caramel to crystallize.) Continue to cook, pushing the nuts around gently if the syrup is coloring unevenly, until a drop of syrup looks deep amber on the plate. Immediately scrape the mixture onto the lined baking sheet and spread it out as well as you can.
- When the praline is still quite warm, use dry hands to break it into pieces and transfer it (still warm) on its parchment to a zipper-lock bag or an airtight container; seal the bag immediately to prevent the praline from getting sticky. Store airtight for up to a month. When ready to use, break the praline into smaller pieces. To make praline powder, chop or pulse the pieces in a food processor.