Bacon Pecan Brittle
Oh My! This is so good, I can’t stop myself from eating it! I knew about peanut brittle and had tried it once or twice, but I wasn’t really a fan. But last year, on a trip to New Orleans, I saw the advertisement for this Bacon Pecan Brittle in the window of a candy shop down in the French Quarter.
I went in and bought some of their famous pecan pralines, and thought, OK, I have to try this brittle. Well, I was hooked! I ate the whole bag in the car on the way back to our rental, and I went back two more times to get more during the week we were there. Something about the combination of sweet and salty just makes it positively addicting!
Ever since then, I have wanted to try making my own. I found a recipe that looked about right on a website called “A Southern Fairy Tail”. http://asouthernfairytale.com/2014/11/30/bacon-pecan-brittle/
I altered the recipe a little, and used a whole package (375 g) of bacon. Well, that was it! If you have ever made fudge, you will have no problem making brittle. It just needs to cook a little longer than fudge, and you have to be organized and have everything ready before you start cooking, because it goes quickly, especially at the end of cooking, and you can’t just let it sit on the stove while you get the pan ready or chop the pecans.
As long as you are careful, have everything handy, and are expecting the little spurt at the end, it should be no problem. Make sure that you read through all of the instructions before you start, and get your greased pan and greased spatula ready and the pan sitting in a warm oven. Remember, boiling sugar is much hotter than boiling water, so you have to be careful not to spill any on your skin, and you have to resist licking the spoon. And one last thing. You may have to adjust the temperatures of the brittle, depending on your altitude. For every 500 feet above sea level you are, you need to reduce the temperature of the candy by one degree. The temps I have provided here are assuming you are at sea level. You can read more about that here. OK, so now that you are ready, here are the instructions:
- First, toast your pecans in a 350 degree oven for 8 to 10 minutes. You can go to this post for detailed instructions if you have never done that before. I always have toasted pecans on hand, so I just made sure I had the required 2 cups, and I gave them a rough dice. Set aside.
2. Dice up 1 package (375 g) of bacon, and fry in large pan until crisp. Drain on paper towels and set aside.
3. Make sure to have your bacon, nuts, baking soda and vanilla ready to add to the candy at the right stage. You don’t want to be fumbling around in your pantry while the candy cooks past the proper temperature!
Also, line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper and spray with cooking oil. If you don’t have the parchment, just spray your pan to make sure it is well oiled. Spray the end of a large spoon or silicone spatula. Put the pan and the spoon/spatula in a warm oven.
4. Now comes the candy part. Put the sugars, corn syrup, water and salt into a large saucepan. Bring it to a boil, stirring frequently, on medium heat. Once it is at a full, rolling boil, add the margarine and turn up the heat to medium-high. Cook without stirring until the mixture reaches 230° F.
In the second picture above, you can see that I am swabbing the sides of the pot with my silicone brush and cold water. (You can see the measuring cup with cold water in the background). This is done a couple of times while the sugar is boiling. This step is optional, but I do it to make sure my candy doesn’t go grainy. If your cooked candy gets any sugar granules in it, it can all go grainy before it cools. So, keeping a brush in cold water close to your pot, and brushing down the inside with a bit of water while the candy boils will remove any granules from the pot and make sure that your candy doesn’t go grainy.
5. Once your candy is at 230 degrees F, turn the heat up to high. Cook and stir until the mixture reaches 280° F. Be watching very closely here, and don’t take your eyes off the thermometer! Every time I have made this, it seemed like it was almost at 280, and then suddenly it was at 300! So, be expecting this and move quickly.
6. Add the bacon and nuts and stir until the mixture reaches 300°F. Watch carefully – this stage went really quickly for me!
7. Immediately remove the pan from the heat. It will still boil, so be careful. Add the vanilla and the baking soda and stir. The mixture will foam up. This foaming is necessary to put little air bubbles into the candy, which makes it crispy instead of solid, and so that you can bite it without breaking your teeth.
8. Remove the warmed baking pan from the oven. Quickly pour the brittle out onto your baking sheet and spread it out into a thin layer using a buttered spoon or buttered silicone spatula (I spray both sides with cooking oil spray.) It’s important to work very quickly at this stage, as the brittle is setting up as you are trying to spread it. Try to get it spread out to touch the sides of the cookie sheet. The thinner you spread it, the easier it is to eat.
9. You can press some nuts into the top of the brittle while it is still warm, which gives it a nice, nutty look. Allow the brittle to cool completely, then break into pieces to serve. It stores well in sandwich bags in the fridge.
And here’s the printable recipe:
Crunchy, salty and sweet, this Bacon Pecan Brittle is addictive, and is an ideal holiday treat.
- 1 package (375 g) bacon, chopped
- 1 Cup granulated white sugar
- 1 Cup dark brown sugar
- 1 Cup corn syrup
- ½ Cup water
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- ¼ Cup butter or margarine
- 2 Cups chopped toasted pecans*
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1½ teaspoons baking soda
- First, chop up the bacon, and fry in a large pan on med-high until crisp. Remove bacon pieces to a plate lined with paper towels to cool and drain.
- Toast the pecans by spreading them on a baking sheet, and put them in a 350 degree oven for about 8 to 10 minutes, or until they smell toasted. Turn the oven off, remove the nuts and let cool while you make the brittle.
- Line a large (11 X 17) rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper, and spray with cooking oil. You also need a large spoon or silicone spatula greased on both sides. Put both of these in your already warm oven to keep them warm until the brittle is ready. If you are using nuts you have toasted previously, turn the oven on to 200 degrees F to warm the pan and spatula.
- In a large pot over medium heat, stir the sugars, corn syrup, water, and salt together until the sugars dissolve.
- Cook, stirring frequently until boiling.
- Add the butter and turn the heat up to med-high.
- Cook without stirring until the mixture reaches 230° F
- Turn the heat up to high. Cook and stir until the mixture reaches 280° F
- Add the bacon and nuts and stir until the mixture reaches 300°F
- Immediately remove the pot from the heat; add in the vanilla and baking soda and stir to incorporate it completely with the brittle.
- The baking soda will cause the mixture to foam up and lighten in color
- Remove the warmed baking pan from the oven.
- Pour the brittle out onto your baking sheet and spread it out into a thin layer using a buttered spoon or buttered silicone spatula (I spray both sides with cooking oil spray.)
- Allow the brittle to cool completely and then break into pieces and serve, or give as a gift to your favorite people.
You could sprinkle a few chopped pecans, or even pecan halves over the top of the warm brittle, and press in to make it pretty.