This year I developed a habit of keeping a tray of candies on the coffee table. It tricks me into thinking that my home is ready for company any time. They are aspirational to my fantasy of being a calm cool and collected hostess. As if that will ever happen.
Thankfully my sweet tooth is not really tempted by the array of sweets. I can easily spend a whole evening watching television without reaching for the candy tray. What it really does is to give myself a legitimate reason to buy and make candies. I went through a soft caramel phase (vegan or not) earlier this year and the result of those experiments lasted a long time. Candied orange peels felt somewhat healthy to snack on. Chocolate hearts with caramelized rice krispies and dried cherries were pretty to look at and even better in the mouth. Alas, my candy tray felt a little forlorn recently with only store-bought candies at the ready.
My original plan for the Christmas holidays involved tackling The Liddabit Sweets Candy Cookbook. By now I think it is safe to say that my plan did not work out. Yesterday afternoon I was glued to the US Olympics Long Track team trial on television. I was cheering for many former inline skaters who took to the ice to chase their Olympics dream. Of course I started feeling restless from my slow post-surgery recovery. I had to do something, anything. I decided to check one item off my to-make list. In hindsight, it probably would make much more sense if I hopped on the bike for an hour instead.
Simply Recipes’ sesame brittle sat on my to-make queue for quite a while. The technique is no different than my favourite toffee buttercrunch which I can almost make with my eyes closed. With the help of my fancy digital thermometer, it was child’s play to make the sesame brittle. I did not even miss a second of the long track skating broadcast.
I veered a little from Elise’s instruction based on my own confectionery experience. I brought the syrup up to 280F before adding the already toasted sesame seeds. The sesame seeds spent less time cooking in the hot syrup and maintained great crunch. Once the mixture reached 300F, I pulled the pot off heat and quickly added in butter, cardamom, and baking soda. Working as quickly as possible to keep the froth, I immediately poured the mixture into a lined 8.5x4.5 loaf pan.
I used the loaf pan because I wanted a rectangular slab of candy. Breaking the brittle into irregular sized pieces has its rustic charm but I was looking for bite-size pieces of uniform shape. When the candy cooled just enough to be sticky but still soft, I carefully scored it with a thin blade as cutting guides. Just before it hardened into the brittle stage, I unmolded the candy and carefully cut it into pieces with a chef knife. When it finally cooled completely, I broke off the pieces (straight sides! No crumbs!) and stored the candies in a pretty little dish.
It was a lovely treat that took at most 30 minutes of active time in the kitchen. Not a bad trade off for the fantastically productive feeling I get every time I glance at my candy tray. My coffee table approves.