You'll fall in love with the first bite of this shatteringly thin, sweet/salty Sea Salted Pumpkin Pecan Brittle. It makes a delicious, gourmet gift with free printable labels!
If you enjoy the warm spices of fall and the flavors of buttery caramel and pecans, you're going to LOVE this Sea Salted Pumpkin Pecan Brittle. It's quite a step above ordinary peanut brittle with a deep mahogany hue, lots of crisp, crunchy pecans and a generous scoop of pumpkin pie spice. The flaky sea salt topping? Well, it's simply the crème de la crème!
The inspiration for this recipe came from the Land O Lakes website. I love their recipes, finding them well-written and always delicious. I'd been eyeing their Golden Buttery Peanut Brittle for several months and decided to give it a try a few weeks ago. Wow! It was amazing and I knew that it would be a perfect base for the Sea Salted Pumpkin Pecan Brittle recipe that's been rolling around in my mind ever since I saw the first red-tinged leaves in the forest surrounding our home.
Is there actually pumpkin in this Sea Salted Pumpkin Pecan Brittle?
Nope! It does have the flavor of pumpkin though, which comes from a delicious spice blend called Pumpkin Pie Spice. If you haven't heard of pumpkin pie spice, it's an American blend of spices that is often used in pumpkin pie and other pumpkin recipes. It's similar to the British "mixed spice" and is generally a blend of ground cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, and sometimes allspice. If you don't have pumpkin pie spice or don't have access to it, no worries! Here's a recipe that you can put together from your spice cabinet: Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice.
Is this sweet treat difficult to make?
This delicious confection comes together in well under an hour and makes a large batch (a whole sheet pan full!) of candy.
It uses pretty common pantry staples except for (perhaps) the pumpkin pie spice. It's not difficult to make, but you do need to pay attention while you're making it. And, for consistent success, it's important to have an instant or candy thermometer (better).
These types of thermometers are not expensive but supplies like sugar and pecans are not cheap, so using a thermometer makes a lot of sense. See the Café Tips below for links for each of these handy kitchen tools.
Microwave vs Stovetop?
I wanted to be able to make this Sea Salted Pumpkin Pecan Brittle in the microwave, thinking it would be much easier. I tried both techniques (microwave and stovetop) but realized that, to ensure success, with any type of brittle you need to bring the ingredients to the "hard crack" stage, which is 300-305˚F. The only way to do that consistently is to use a thermometer.
If you use a microwave to make this candy you have to check it frequently with an instant thermometer which means pulling the super hot mixture in and out of the microwave. Also, microwaves differ in strength and having a turntable (or not) also affects cooking time.
I found it was a lot less work to make this brittle in a pot on the stovetop with a candy thermometer attached to the pot. It's super easy to monitor the temperature along the way and to not undercook or overcook the brittle.
I also experimented with using a candy thermometer vs an instant thermometer. The candy thermometer won the prize for ease and efficiency. Dipping in and out of the hot mixture with the instant thermometer was doable but more of a hassle.
How to make thin brittle?
As mentioned above, this Pumpkin Pecan Brittle is shatteringly crisp - nice and thin. I experimented with different techniques to achieve a thin brittle and discovered an easy little trick. Simply preheat your oven to 375˚F (190˚C) and place a foil-lined pan on the lowest rack while you prepare and cook the brittle. When the temperature of the sugar mixture reaches 305˚F (152C), pull out the hot pan (using oven mitts, of course), give it a light mist with cooking spray and pour the candy mixture onto the hot pan.
Tilt the pan from side to side until the brittle covers the bottom of the pan. Voila, the hot pan keeps the mixture from cooling too quickly and yields super-thin brittle!
Perfect for gifting
Want to make someone's day? Bag or box up some of this DELICIOUS Pumpkin Pecan Brittle, tie it with a pretty bow and wait for the oohs and ahhs.
To make it even more fun and attractive for gifting, we've created some free printable labels. If you'd like them, just scroll to the bottom of this post and leave a comment letting us know. We'll email a PDF for the labels (along with instructions) that you can print up on your own computer.
Don't fancy yourself to be a candy maker? If you have an hour of spare time, you can totally do this! Read the tips and tricks below and give it try. You'll be thrilled when you see the fabulous results!
Cafe Tips for making this Sea Salted Pumpkin Pecan Brittle
- You'll need a candy thermometer to ensure success for this recipe. Candy thermometers range in price and features but none of them are over-the-top expensive. This simple one works well although I really like using this digital candy thermometer which you can set to alarm when it reaches the proper temperature. Both of them have a clip that attaches to the side of a pot.
- An instant thermometer will also work for this recipe but requires frequently checking (dipping in and out of the pot) to ensure that the candy is not under or overcooked.
- Many brittle recipes (including the one mentioned above from Land O Lakes) call for a bit of baking soda at the end, before pouring into the pan. I didn't forget this, but found that omitting the baking soda creates a thinner, crisper, more attractive finished product.
- I found that making this brittle in a medium-large pot works better than a really large pot because it gives the sugar mixture a bit more depth. This allows the candy thermometer to give a more accurate reading. I love this lifetime heavy-duty AllClad saucepan.
- This Sea Salted Pecan Pumpkin Brittle recipe calls for chopped pecans. You can chop your own or purchase chopped pecans which is a time and mess saver. I really love the chopped pecans that Sam's Club sells. It's a large package for a super reasonable price.
- This recipe calls for dark corn syrup. You can also use light (clear) corn syrup. I like the slightly deeper color that the dark corn syrup gives to this candy, but the light will work just as well. I've used both with equally delicious results.
- Just a word about corn syrup. Corn syrup is not necessarily the controversial "high fructose" corn syrup that has had negative health issues associated with it. Read the label when purchasing corn syrup. I like the Karo brand as it does not contain any fructose. Here is an article by The Kitchn which explains the difference. That being said, limiting our sugar intake is prudent and this brittle should be enjoyed in moderation.
- If you're wondering what "flaky sea salt" (one of the ingredients in this recipe) is, it's pretty much what the name says; salt that's harvested in flakes. Probably the most popular (and, to me, the best) flaky sea salt is Maldon. Maldon Sea Salt is harvested in Maldon, England, about 50 miles north of London. It's the choice sea salt of chefs worldwide. It's not the kind of salt you would use on an everyday basis but rather as a "finishing salt", meaning a salt you would sprinkle on food for a delicious finishing touch. Maldon is more expensive than regular salt but it lasts a long time when used as a finishing salt.
- To use flaky sea salt, grab a pinch of it with your fingers and rub them together a bit to break up the larger flakes as you sprinkle it over your food.
- This Sea Salted Pumpkin Pecan Brittle is fine at room temperature but should be stored in an airtight container if there is a lot of humidity in the air.
- This brittle also freezes well. Use an airtight container or zip lock bag.
- Oh, one last thing. Keep a bag of this Sea Salted Pumpkin Pecan Brittle in your freezer along with a carton of good vanilla ice cream. For a quick, fancy dessert when you don't have time to make dessert, put a scoop or two of ice cream in a pretty dish and add some slivers of brittle. You can also crush the brittle and sprinkle it over the top... DELISH!!
Thought for the day:
So we fix our eyes not on what is seen,
but on what is unseen,
since what is seen is temporary,
but what is unseen is eternal.
1 Corinthians 4:18
What we're listening to for inspiration:
If you enjoyed this recipe, please come back and leave a star rating and review! It’s so helpful to other readers to hear your results, adaptations and ideas for variations.
- 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
- 1 cup sugar
- ½ cup dark corn syrup you can also use clear corn syrup
- ¼ cup water
- ½ cup butter I used salted
- 1 ¾ cup chopped pecans
- non-stick cooking spray
Preheat the oven to 375˚F (190˚C). Line a sheet pan (13x18-inches) with a large piece of foil for easy clean-up. Crimp the edges of the foil around the sides of the pan. Place the pan on the lowest shelf of the oven while you prepare the brittle.
Measure the 2 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice into a small bowl and set aside near the stove.
Combine the sugar, corn syrup, and water in a medium-size saucepan (I use a pan that holds 3 quarts). Stir to combine then bring to a boil (3-4 minutes).
Add the butter and stir until melted. Continue to cook the sugar mixture, stirring occasionally, at a medium boil for about 10 minutes or until an instant or candy thermometer reaches 280˚F (138˚C).
Add the pecans and stir to combine. The mixture will be quite thick at this time. Stir more frequently now as you don’t want the pecans to burn. If the mixture seems to be browner around the edges of the pan as you’re stirring, reduce the heat a bit to prevent burning. Continue cooking (and stirring) until the mixture reaches 305˚F(152˚C) on a candy or instant thermometer.
Turn off the heat and remove the pot from the burner. Add the pumpkin pie spice and stir to combine. Using oven mitts, remove the hot pan from the oven and place it on the stovetop. Spray lightly with non-stick cooking spray. Rub the pan with a paper towel to evenly distribute the spray.
Pour the candy mixture lengthwise down the center of the prepared pan. Do not spread but tilt the pan from side to side and back and forth. At first, the mixture won’t cover the pan but continue to tilt and lightly jiggle the pan until the mixture is spread thin and covers the pan. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt. Set aside on a cooling rack to cool completely then break into pieces and store in an airtight container.
See Café Tips above in the post for more detailed instructions and tips to ensure success.
This recipe makes 2½ pounds of candy.