Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Salted Almond and Pistachio Caramel

I have just returned from a fanatstic week in South Australia - actually a work trip, but I decided to take a bit on annual leave at the end of the official work duties to explore the city and spend a few days in the famous wine region, the Barossa Valley. I am preparing a full report for you - I discovered some fabulous food and beautiful local produce -  and I will be posting my South Australia report with pics later in the week.

In the meantime, I thought I would share something that I made a couple of weeks ago. I decided to channel my inner Willy Wonka and have a go at making confectionary - something I haven't tried since I destroyed one of my mother's best cooking pots making honeycomb when I was a kid. Disastrous. Burnt, rock hard sugar that was impossible to remove. I actually dug a hole in the backyard when my mother was at work and buried the pot to avoid getting into serious trouble. You can understand why I haven't attempted to make confectionary again since then!

Anyway, as it turns out, today's recipe is really easy, but does require your total attention as the sugar will turn to caramel quite quickly and needs to be monitored all the way to avoid it burning - burnt sugar = yuk!! I love salted caramel, and this delicious brittle uses those flavours, along with the crunch of almonds and the delicious taste of pistachios to make a tasty sweet treat.


Some hints before you start: The sugar syrup you will be making is very, very hot and can do some serious damage if you burn yourself with it. Also, being hot sugar, it sticks to things. Be very careful and do not leave the pot unattended at any stage. Also, do not use metal or plastic utensils during the process - wood is the only option. Plastic will melt and metal will get too hot in your hand. And don't be tempted to dip your finger in for a taste before it is on the tray and cooled - otherwise, ouch!


Freshly poured and waiting to set

After you have finished the cooking, the pot may end up with hard caramel on the sides and this can be a pain in the butt to clean the conventional way. Make it easy by filling the pot with water and letting it boil. The caramel will just melt off and this will save you time and hassle.


Salted Almond & Pistachio Caramel
Simply crack - and eat


You will need: 5 cups white sugar, 2 cups water, 100g butter, 1 cup whole blanched roasted almonds, 1 cup shelled, unsalted pistachios, 1/2 teaspoon quality salt (Murray River Pink Salt or Maldon are both good)

Method: Line a large metal tray with baking paper.

In a heavy bottomed pot place the sugar and water and bring it to the boil, stirring occasionally. Allow the mixture to continue to simmer until the water evaporates (about 15 minutes) The sugar will seem like it has become a dry mess at this stage but stay with it, stirring frequently.

The sugar will begin to turm a golden caramel brown and all of the granules of sugar will eventually dissolve. Once this has happened, remove the caramel from the heat. Add the butter and the salt and mix it through for a minute of so, until is is totally combined.

Now stir through the almonds and pistachios. Pour the mixture onto the papered baking tray and spread the mixture quickly, so it is in one thin, even layer that goes right to the edge.

Allow the caramel to cool. Snap into pieces to serve and store in an airtight jar or container. Try to stop at one piece!

To make praline - after you have broken the caramel into pieces, whizz them in the food processor until they are the texture of breadcrumbs. Use this praline for topping cakes, folded through icecream or as a component in other desserts.

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3 comments:

  1. thanks for this recipe. I reckon this would make a not too shabby xmas pressie - all boxed up with a pretty ribbon or in celophane bags. Sometimes a sweet home made treat full of love can be the best xmas gift of all.

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  2. By the way it was me - Fiona Leiper - who made the comment .... but I can't figure out how to publish my post any other way than anon...maybe you can help me Toni?

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