Cashew brittle is a type of candy that is packed with kidney-shaped Brazilian seeds called cashew nuts. It is typically rather crunchy, or as the name implies, brittle. In general, it is made with a sweetener, such as sugar, corn syrup, or honey. In addition, it usually contains a small amount of butter, vanilla, and baking soda. The ingredient that separates it from other brittle adaptations is the cashews, which can be roasted or raw.
Although cashew brittle generally has a buttery flavor, only about 2 teaspoons (10 ml) of butter is actually used. Typically, the primary ingredient, sugar, is melted first. Most recipes call for about 2 cups (450 grams) of sugar. If other sweeteners are used, this amount may decrease slightly. For example, some recipes call for a half cup (about 125 ml) of corn syrup or honey. In those cases, only 1.5 cups (about 337 grams) of sugar is used.
After the sugar is melted, the butter, vanilla, baking soda, and nuts are added, one ingredient at a time, to the melted sugar. These ingredients are cooked slowly. Some people use a candy thermometer to ensure the temperature of the candy does not rise above 295°F (about 146°C). This will prevent the candy from developing a burnt taste. After the ingredients have all melted together, the candy can be spread on a greased cookie sheet and left to cool.
There are many variations and additions that can make cashew brittle unique. For example, some people add coconut, ginger, or chocolate chips. Others may prefer to top it with a thin layer of melted chocolate. Although many people prefer to make cashew brittle using traditional cooking equipment, others enjoy the efficiency that can be found from melting the ingredients in a microwave oven.
Cashew brittle is a popular treat for many people during the winter holiday season. While some people prefer to make the candy from scratch, others prefer to buy it pre-made. It typically can be purchased through a variety of Internet websites, from candy shops, and even from grocery stores.
Surprisingly, there are some health benefits to eating cashew brittle. Cashews are believed to be lower in fat than many other types of nuts, making them a filling snack. They also are high in copper, so they help the body absorb iron, fight free radicals that may cause cancer, and produce melanin in the hair and skin. These nuts are also high in magnesium, so they promote strong bones, tone the muscles, and relax the nerves. Some studies have indicated that they may reduce the likelihood of gallstones as well.
As with many nuts, people with nut allergies should avoid cashews, even in cashew brittle. In addition, cashews are believed to contain oxalates, or organic acid molecules; some studies indicate that oxalates can lead to kidney problems, particularly in people with kidney disease.