After a few weeks of dropping bourbon brittle teases, food for fun is ready for its show-and-tell.
First, the bourbon brittle I found for a mere $2 at Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort, Kentucky. I tried to make it last, but it is now gone and my mistake was not coming home with a case of this stuff.
Knowing this crunchy, sweet, bourbony candy would soon be gone, I committed to figuring out how to make it myself. How hard could it be, right?
The answer to this question varies depending on how much time I had to play in the kitchen. Turns out not so much, which left me scrambling for recipes just last night. Originally I wanted to make a brittle similar to what I’d found in Kentucky, but this recipe stopped me in my tracks. Yes, please! I thawed and cooked up bacon while gathering the other ingredients, refrigerated the brittle overnight, and ended up with…
Wanting a bit more bourbon in the recipe, I added 2 tablespoons to the top layer of chocolate. And because I substituted an equal weight of DIY bourbon marshmallows for the storebought, the middle layer is softer than it might have been otherwise. In the end, though, dreamy stuff.
But I didn’t feel right not also trying a more traditional brittle, as promised. My thoughts immediately turned to my Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook (mentioned here before) as its Willy Wonka-esque treatment of sweet treats seemed just the ticket. The nut brittle chapter was brief, but intriguing. Instead of complicated recipes with specific sugar syrup temperatures, it simply directs the reader to boil sugar and nuts until a deep and dark brown. Uncomfortable playing it so fast and loose, I used a candy thermometer and also added bourbon because wasn’t that the point?
My first batch sugared out, leaving me with a solid brick of sugar in the bottom of the pan. Out it went. The next one was better as I covered the pan in hopes that the steam would wash the sugar crystals from the sides of the pan, preventing crystallization. I also upped the bourbon from 3 tablespoons per cup of sugar to 1/4 cup. I’m mostly happy with the result, though it was a bit sugary in the end. I played around with toppings, sprinkling with maple cinnamon popcorn, bourbon-smoked pepper, and crushed vanilla wafers.
Once completely cool, the pieces were hard, but they didn’t have the “snap” of a great brittle.
Which meant attempt #3 was next. I upped the bourbon to 1/3 cup even if only because I wanted to see how much I could get away with. (At this point I’m lucky my kitchen didn’t go up in flames as the bourbon fumes were strong.) I also used 1/2 teaspoon salt and was militant about brushing the inside of the saucepan with a wet pastry brush, ensuring that crystals didn’t stand a chance. The final batch poured out clear, smooth, glasslike. A sprinkling of bourbon smoked sea salt, in addition to the smoked pepper, were unorthodox toppings.
This shard-like brittle would be perfect served over vanilla ice cream or used to top cupcakes or a larger cake. But. It wouldn’t pass for Buffalo Trace brittle and that’s what I was going for. Mission not really accomplished, though I’m shelving future experiments as I’ve had my share of making bourbon brittle for now. I’ll give myself an A for effort and pass around trays of bourbon brittle. Just be sure to brush your teeth when you’re done.
Just Like Glass Bourbon Brittle
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup bourbon
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
In heavy medium saucepan, combine all ingredients. Heat over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Bring to a boil. Boil, without stirring but brushing inside of pan down with wet pastry brush to prevent sugar from crystallizing, 8 to 10 minutes or until temperature reaches 310°F. Pour onto baking sheet lined with parchment paper or silicone baking mat. Top as desired. Cool completely.