When you think of brittle, you think peanut. But, in my opinion, there is another crunchy, salty treat that far exceeds the peanut: the pistachio. What most people don’t think of when they dream of a perfectly roasted pistachio is cracked black pepper. Let me tell you, the flavor combination of the two is delightful.
This all came about a few nights ago when my husband and I had a friend (who just so happens to be the chef/owner of a tasty local eatery) over for dinner. Of course, whatever I cooked had to be unique and perfect. He usually doesn’t make dessert, so the challenge to make something balanced but sweet was upon me. Lately I have been obsessed with pistachios, so naturally I wanted to incorporate them into the dessert course. I had already settled on making ice cream, so I could wow our chef buddy with my ability to make a créme anglaise.
A brittle will compliment anything, but I didn’t want just any old brittle. My recent obsession instantly brought me to the substitution of pistachios, but still I felt like it wasn’t enough. I considered making a peppercorn ice cream to compliment the brittle but remembered how yummy black pepper tastes on pistachios. I figured it was worth a shot to crack some black pepper and throw it into my candy mixture. If it didn’t work, I had ice cream to fall back on.
The addition of dark chocolate came later, which was a consequence of my general opinion that dark chocolate makes everything taste better. If you don’t share my adoration for dark chocolate, the brittle is just as lovely without it. You can expect a bigger punch from the pepper if you forego the chocolate layer.
I hope you enjoy the brittle and the process to make it as much as I have. If anything, you will have a very unique gift to put among the sea of red velvet treats at your holiday parties this season!
Cracked Black Pepper Pistachio Brittle with Dark Chocolate:
- Candy Thermometer
- Parchment Paper
- Double Boiler
- Cookie Cooling Rack
- Rubber Spatula
- 1/2 cup of light corn syrup
- 1 cup of sugar
- 3 tablespoons of water
- 1 tablespoon of black pepper corns
- 1 cup of shelled pistachios
- 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter
- 3/4 tablespoon of baking soda
- 1 teaspoon of coarse sea salt
- 6 oz of good dark chocolate
Directions for the Brittle:
Combine first three ingredients into your saucepan and place over medium heat. While the candy mixture begins to cook, you can prep your other ingredients. Don’t worry about leaving this alone for a few minutes because it takes some time to get up to the needed temperature. The final temperature will be 280 degrees Fahrenheit.
Place the peppercorns in a zip lock baggie, seal it, then crack them with your rolling-pin. Roughly chop your pistachios and mix with the peppercorns.
Tear a good sized piece of parchment paper and place on your counter or a sheet pan. Spray the parchment paper with cooking oil, this prevents the brittle from sticking after it cools.
Coming back to your candy mixture, it should be close to boiling if it has not already started to boil by, so stick your candy thermometer into the mixture to watch the temperature. Once the candy reaches 270 degrees, add in your butter, pistachios, and black pepper. The candy will initially seize but will loosen up if you leave it on the heat and continue to stir.
Note: I do not add the pistachios any earlier because they will burn and taste bitter.
Once the candy has loosened up, it is time to add in the baking soda. Be warned, for those who have never made brittle before, this creates a chemical reaction where the acid in the sugar mixture reacts with the alkaline baking soda, releasing carbon dioxide and making the brittle porous. Once you add the baking soda, you have to quickly stir to incorporate it all. By the time you’ve completely incorporated the baking soda, the temperature should be at 280 degrees. Pour it out onto your parchment paper. Spread it out as thin as possible with your spatula, and sprinkle on the sea salt.
The brittle needs to cool completely before you can add the dark chocolate. I flip it over onto the cookie rack (so you can coat the back of the brittle) and let in cool on the counter.
Now you’re going to have to temper the chocolate. If you’ve never tempered chocolate before, don’t be intimidated. It’s not as difficult as it sounds.
Set up your double boiler over medium heat. Once the water comes up to temperature and is boiling on medium heat, add in 2/3 of the chocolate to the mixing bowl on top of the double boiler. Constantly stir until the chocolate has fully melted. You will need to bring the chocolate, because it is dark, up to 115 degrees Fahrenheit. Once it is at the right temperature, remove from the heat and stir in the remaining chocolate. Mix until it has fully melted and has cooled to 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
Pour over the back of the brittle, and let the chocolate fully set before you snap the brittle into pieces.