Brittle Report

I know that the brittle recipe is repetitive for you online readers, but it turned out so well that I felt the recipe needed to be shared with readers in the print edition, too, so bear with me today …

I found a couple hours on Sunday, before heading in to the Daily Globe office for the last leg of my weekend duty duties, to get a start on my holiday treat making.

The window of time I had available wasn’t really enough to mix up and bake a batch of cookies — for me, that’s an all-afternoon project. So I decided to make a batch of brittle. But not just any brittle.

Pecan Bacon Brittle.

I’ve been making pecan brittle for a number of years now, thanks to pecans generously provided by friends in Texas. And I’d recently come across an article in Martha Stewart Living magazine, focusing on making barks and brittles and all the possible variations.

Then a Facebook acquaintance posted a recipe for Peanut Bacon Brittle. The wheels started turning in my head, and I knew I had to try a batch of brittle with bacon in it.

Bacon, if you haven’t noticed, has enjoyed a surge of popularity in the culinary world, particularly as a dessert ingredient —bacon as a topping for maple cupcakes, chocolate-covered bacon, etc. I’m a fan of the pork product myself — is there any better smell than cooking bacon? — but had never sampled it as a sweet accompaniment.

Although I’ve been wanting to try a microwave version of brittle (watch for that in future blogs, if it turns out), I decided to stick to the original recipe since I was working with an unusual ingredient. Despite a malfunctioning candy thermometer (thank goodness I used the cup of water test to gauge the brittle’s readiness, too), I am ready to deem the bacon brittle experiment a success. The flavor of the bacon is not dominant in the candy; it just adds a slightly smoky and salty flavor.

Bacon Pecan Brittle

Combine 2 cups sugar and ¾ cup water in a saucepan. Attach candy thermometer and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Add a scant cup light corn syrup and continue to cook until candy thermometer reaches 239 degrees.

Add ¾ cup chopped pecans and 8 slices bacon, cooked and chopped (about ¾ cup cooked). Continue cooking, stirring constantly, until thermometer reaches 311 degrees.

Remove immediately from heat and stir in ½ teaspoon salt, 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, ½ tablespoon vanilla extract and ½ tablespoon baking soda.

Pour mixture into a jelly roll pan that has been liberally coated with butter or cooking spray, using a rubber spatula to spread it out thinly and evenly. Let cool.

When completely cooled, break into pieces. Store in airtight container.

While I was keeping a watchful eye on the candy brewing on the stovetop, I decided to use up the packages of oyster crackers I bought on sale by making some snacking crackers. (The crackers were taking up much-needed space in the pantry.) Here’s the version I like to make, which is just a bit spicier than using the traditional ranch dressing mix.

Seasoned Oyster Crackers

Dump 2 packages oyster crackers into a deep baking pan.

In a bowl, combine ¾ cup canola oil with 1 package Hidden Valley Fiesta Ranch or Spicy Ranch dressing/dip mix, ¾ teaspoon lemon pepper, 1 ½ teaspoons dill weed and ½ teaspoon garlic powder; whisk to combine thoroughly. Pour oil mixture over crackers and use a rubber spatula to gently stir the crackers, making sure they are thoroughly coated with the oil.

Bake at 250 degrees for about 30 minutes or until the oil is all absorbed, stirring a couple of times.

Store in an airtight container.