This is such a simple recipe, but one I believe not too many of us know how to do. I love crystallised nuts on desserts or as snacks, rather than candied or caramelised ones. I do like my teeth and don’t want to damage any by cracking them on hard candy. There are loads of recipes that call for the caramelised versions, but the crystallised ones are quite tricky to find. Not only is the coating light and crisp, it can also be flavoured giving a wonderful light shell to the nuts.
How and why are these different? In most aspects of using sugar we never really want large grainy crystals, they just don’t have a great mouth feel. Think of the effort we go to in making ice cream, the use of egg yolks are there to help attain tiny sugar crystals rather than larger ones. As we melt sugar in water, all the molecules separate. The important point now is how we turn this back into sugar. The magic happens around 38°c.
If you touch the sugar above this temperature, ie metal spoon, the fast free flowing molecules will space themselves out and create large crystals. If you do the same thing below 38°c, there is less energy and so small crystals are formed and you essentially create fondant.
Try the basic recipe below, and once confident you can try adding powders to the sugar to flavour it. Curry, cinnamon, ginger etc.[purerecipe]
- 100g Caster Sugar
- 100g Nuts(I used Pistachios)
- Pinch of salt.
- Add 75ml water to the sugar, heat in a heavy based pan until it reaches 135°c.
- As you are doing this add the nuts to a 170°c oven to warm through, up to 10mins.
- Once the sugar is up to temperature, take off the heat and add the nuts. Stir with a whisk until the solution hardens, crystallises and sticks to the nuts.
- Spread onto baking parchment to cool. If you can wait that long!