Every year, when I carve my Hallowe’en pumpkins, I am reminded of the horrified look on my then-three year old son’s face when I first tried to get him to eat roasted pumpkin seeds. “But mommy,” he cried, “we don’t eat GUTS!” He couldn’t believe that the slimy innards of a pumpkin could possibly be transformed into something edible.
Well, I’ve got news for him – not only are roasted pumpkin seeds delicious on their own, they make fantastic candy. This pumpkin seed brittle is so tasty, I’m tempted to go knocking on my neighbours doors just before Hallowe’en, offering to take their pumpkin ‘guts’ off their hands. You can eat the brittle as is, or use it as a garnish for desserts like cheesecake and panna cotta or even savoury dishes like roasted vegetables or salad.
Preheat oven to 325F.
In a small bowl, toss the well rinsed pumpkin seeds (make sure there is little to no stringy pumpkin flesh clinging to the seeds) with the olive oil and salt.
Spread the seeds out in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake, stirring occasionally, until the seeds are just beginning to turn brown (about 25 minutes).
Remove the seeds from the oven and set aside.
Line a clean, large baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium saucepan, stir together the sugar, water and corn syrup. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture begins to boil and the sugar is dissolved. This will take about 15 minutes; do not be tempted to rush the process by turning up the heat as the sugar will burn.
Once the sugar mixture is boiling, let it continue to cook but do not stir. With an instant read thermometer (or a candy thermometer), check temperature often.
When the temperature of the sugar mixture reaches 285F (soft crack stage, in candy making terms), add the roasted pumpkin seeds and stir to blend well.
Continue to cook for another 5 – 10 minutes, continuing to check temperature often and stirring occasionally, until mixture reaches 300F (hard crack stage) – approximately 5 minutes.
Take the pot off the heat and add butter, baking soda and vanilla. It will foam up a little but stir vigorously to blend well.
Quickly pour the mixture out onto the parchment lined tray. With the back of a silicone spatula, spread the brittle into as thin a layer as possible.
Let the brittle cool completely then break into pieces; store in an airtight container for up to two weeks.
Makes about 4 cups of brittle