|roasted and skinned hazelnuts|
nuts suspended in a hard caramel are a popular candy. mama would buy irregular rectangles of peanut brittle from united bakery in islamabad. these little jaw-breakers had to be bitten down upon at the back of the mouth. the knowledge that they were bad for our teeth did nothing to deter us from eating them. the brittle itself was slightly cloudy and had an oily sheen that must have come from the addition of butter or cream into the caramel.
my recipe for sumac and hazelnut brittle is inspired by the italian classic croccante di mandorle (almond brittle). i have adapted mrs larkin’srecipe from food fifty-two by substituting almonds with toasted hazelnuts and using the red-burgundy sumac to add a subtle lemony and tart flavour. i also added the zest of a lemon along with a little juice to the caramel to compliment the lemony profile of the sumac. mrs larkin’s recommendation to use a cut lemon to spread the caramel was excellent as it gave the finished croccante a lovely citrusy note.
i made this croccante a day or two before i flew to pakistan to be with my parents. it was one of the many foods that made up my luggage home and was much appreciated.
|sumac and hazelnut croccante|
one and a half cups plus one tablespoon granulated sugar
one teaspoon lemon juice
two tablespoons water
two cups unskinned hazelnuts
one tablespoon sumac
zest of a lemon
quarter teaspoon flaky salt
line a twenty-three cm rectangular cake tin with parchment paper.
place the hazelnuts in a roasting tin and lightly toast in the oven at a hundred and eight degrees until fragrant. remove them from oven and let them cool slightly before you rub them between your palms to slake their skins. roughly chop the hazelnuts into halves and set aside.
combine the tablespoon of sugar with the tablespoon of sumac and run it through a spice grinder. this isn’t necessary if you like a slightly coarser powder.
melt the sugar, lemon juice and water in a large saucepan over medium/low heat using a wooden spoon to stir occasionally. when the contents of the pan turn golden-blonde, turn off the heat and add the hazelnuts, sumac sugar, lemon zest and flaky salt. mix well.
carefully pour the caramel and nut mixture into the lined cake tin. use the lemon half to spread the nut mixture, taking care not to scald your fingers. let it cool for ten minutes and then score the square into triangles. this will make it easier for you to break the croccante when it is hard. alternatively, you can let it harden fully and break it into rough pieces.