Pepitas are pumpkin seeds. When seeds are fresh from a pumpkin, each green seed is encased in a beige colored, slightly tough but edible hull. When the hull is removed, the dark green seed is revealed. Pepitas are sold and with or without hulls, salted and unsalted. Look for hulled pepitas in many grocery stores and natural food stores. I recommend buying pepitas already hulled; you can hull the seeds yourself by cracking and peeling off the hulls, but this is a tedious task.
Help: Sugar and Caramel Stages
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- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup light corn syrup
- 3 tablespoons water
- 1 cup unsalted, raw, hulled pepitas
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt or sea salt
- ⅛ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¾ teaspoon baking soda
- About ¼ teaspoon coarse kosher salt or sea salt
- In a large, at least 2 quart-size, heavy-bottomed pan, combine granulated sugar, corn syrup, and water. Heat over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, until the sugar is completely dissolved. Stir gently to avoid splashing the mixture onto the sides of the pan. When the mixture begins to simmer, cover the pan tightly with a lid for 3 to 4 minutes to allow condensation to form and run down the inside of the pan to help wash away stray sugar crystals.
- Increase the heat to medium high and bring to a boil, without stirring, until the syrup reaches a temperature of 290 degrees F, using a candy or instant read thermometer to gauge the temperature.
- When the mixture has reached 290 degrees, immediately add the pepitas, stirring to mix. Continue boiling the mixture, stirring and scraping the pot bottom to avoid scorching, until the mixture reaches a temperature of 300 degrees F, a hard crack stage. Be careful, the sugar is extremely hot and will burn your skin if you touch it. Immediately remove pan from the heat. Tip: Lower the heat when the temperature reaches 290 degrees to slow the cooking because at this point it will quickly reach 300 degrees.
- Add the butter, salt, and cinnamon; stir carefully and quickly to thoroughly mix. Be careful, the sugar is extremely hot and will burn your skin if you touch it. Add the baking soda and stir quickly to thoroughly mix, about 20 seconds; the mixture will immediately start foaming and turn lighter in color and increasing in volume.
- After you have stirred in the baking soda, and while the mixture is still foaming, immediately pour the brittle onto the prepared baking pan. Do not scrape out the pan as separated ingredients will mar the top of the brittle. Using a lightly buttered heavy spatula (a spatula that is not too flexible) quickly spread the brittle over the pan about ¼ inch thick. Tip: You must work quickly because it takes less than a minute for the brittle to start cooling, once cooled it will be difficult to spread.
- Topping: Sprinkle the top of the brittle with kosher salt or sea salt.
- Tip: You can stretch the brittle a bit while it is still warm and pliable to make a thinner brittle. Wear rubber gloves so you don’t burn your hands, lightly butter your fingertips, gently lift the edges and pull gently from the middle out to the edges. Pull all around the brittle to stretch to an even thickness. It the brittle is too hot to handle wait about 5 seconds and try again.
- Let the brittle cool completely, at least one hour and then break into pieces. Store in a tightly covered container at room temperature or refrigerate.