I started off my holiday baking escapades this week with a new twist on a favorite recipe. I have always liked peanut brittle, even though I will confess that I am really not a fan of the peanuts, per se. The buttery and sweet brittle is what I love the most. As I have dieted over the past year, one food that I have enjoyed almost daily for a little snack is pistachio nuts. Costco sells a big bag of the shelled nuts at a good price, and I have been so grateful to keep a bag of these healthy nuts on my kitchen counter over the past year when a snack attack hits me.
Hubby and I discussed some of the sweets that we would like to have and give this year during the holidays, and we both agreed that substituting pistachios for the peanuts might be worth a try, as we both love to eat them. I have also had a slightly spicy pistachio brittle in the past (similar to the recipe at that link), and it was very good. However, for this first attempt, I opted to use a more traditional recipe and substitute the nuts as the only change.
This was definitely a successful modification, and I seriously doubt that I will ever make regular peanut brittle again, unless I make it for someone who prefers it over this kind. The wonderful green color from the pistachios even makes the brittle more festive for the holidays, too.
I used a recipe from Land O Lakes, with only two slight changes, in addition to substituting the nuts in equal amounts. After adding the baking soda, I also added one teaspoon of Watkins vanilla extract, and I also turned the entire recipe out into just one buttered pan instead of dividing it between two pans. In my opinion, it came out great! Using a candy thermometer makes this a simple recipe to prepare, too.
I buttered the baking pan well, turned out the hot brittle mixture into the pan, spread it to the edges with a buttered spatula, then let it sit for about an hour until it was completely cooled. Once it was cooled, I then turned the pan upside down over a large cookie sheet and gently tapped the bottom of the pan with a hammer (that I only use in the kitchen) until the brittle fell loose. While the brittle was upside down on the cookie sheet, I used the clean hammer to gently break the pieces apart, using only the edge of the hammer when tapping. There is no need to line the pan with foil or parchment, as the brittle slides out quite easily after it is allowed to completely cool in the well-buttered pan.
I also experimented with another new recipe that has pistachios, too.
I found this simple recipe for Cranberry Pistachio White Chocolate Bark online from Brown-Eyed Baker. This took about five minutes to make, using the microwave to melt the white chocolate morsels, and it will be a regular holiday sweet treat for us. What a pretty addition it will be to my Christmas food gifts this year! (12/13/14 Update: Just saw where Ina Garten also adds some diced dried apricots to hers, too!)
After the holidays, I will go back to just snacking on my lovely pistachio nuts, sans all the extra calories, but I will certainly have fond memories of these tasty treats!