waste not: pumpkin seed brittle.

October 29, 2018

Waste Not is a collaboration with my friend, Carrie King. The premise is simple: Carrie, a food writer and editor, shares a recipe highlighting at least one particular way that we can curb food waste. I make it at home, take a bunch of pictures, and share it with everyone here.

Faye has been talking about her costume choice for the last eight months (ladybug going strong for the third year in a row over here—including a little brother recruit). And now that we’re in the final stretch, the Halloween excitement is palpable. We carved our pumpkin this weekend. Costumes get a final coat of red paint tonight. Spots get added tomorrow. One of us will make a last-minute dash for sparkly red ribbon as requested by the eldest ladybug. And for one evening, we’ll indulge in all manner of spooky candy hustling as we follow two little ladybugs up and down mildly treacherous Brooklyn stoops. I’m sure I’m as excited as my kids are. As you’ll learn, Carrie’s somewhat less enthusiastic about the holiday. But for all of her naysaying, she’s dreamed up something decidedly festive: homespun candy made with pumpkin seeds. (No need to ferret around in your children’s Halloween stash for a piece of palatable candy when you can make your own!)

From Carrie:

If there were a Halloween equivalent of Scrooge, I guess I could be that person.

I know this puts me firmly in the killjoy category, but I just can’t get into the dressing up and the mountains of candy and the inevitable craziness that ensues after a bunch of kids, all hopped up on sugar, take to the streets. Plus, I’m a scaredy cat by nature, so I think the idea of a night that celebrates all-things-creepy just was never gonna be my bag. I’ve also got a tiny bit of germaphobe hidden deep inside, so the whole bobbing for apples thing…just no.

And this is not some get-boring-with-age development. Admittedly, my younger self was super into the candy haul, but my general lack of excitement for every other aspect of Halloween, including the dressing up and trudging around in the dark and (usually) cold, has been with me for as long as I can remember.

But, I’ll tell you the one part of Halloween that I adore: pumpkin picking.

I love going to a pumpkin patch and scouting out all manner of pumpkins and gourds for carving and decorating. It’s true that although the carved pumpkins are technically for Halloween, I tend to think of pumpkin picking as more of a general autumnal ritual that gives me all the warm and fuzzy (sometimes cheesy) fall feels. Right up there with mulled cider, and crunchy leaves, wood-burning fires, and saying things like, “sweater weather” and “foliage.”
It’s no big secret that you can toast up and salt the pumpkin seeds after carving for a quick, easy, and healthy snack. However, for those more into the treat than the trick, I’d like to proffer a decidedly not-as-healthy, more indulgent option for your leftover Jack o’lantern guts this year…pumpkin seed brittle!
The basic idea behind any brittle is to make a caramel taken to the “hard crack” stage so that once it sets, you can break it apart into shards of glassy, crunchy, caramel, stuck-in-your-teeth delights.

The internet abounds with brittle recipes that involve corn syrup. Not here. Aside from the almighty pumpkin seeds, this recipe involves ingredients that you likely already have on hand: neutral oil, salted butter, brown sugar, honey, and sea salt. Mixed together in just the right way, you have an outrageous way to enjoy your pumpkin seeds this year.

Pumpkin Seed Brittle

1½ cups raw, whole pumpkin seeds
1 tablespoon neutral oil
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
4 tablespoons salted butter
¼ cup honey
½ cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons water
Coarse or flaked sea salt

Preheat oven to 325ºF.

Clean pumpkin seeds in a colander, rinsing and pulling off any excess pumpkin pulp and strings.

Spread seeds on a clean kitchen towel to dry then transfer to an 11- x 17- inch baking sheet.

Toss seeds with oil and fine sea salt.

Place in oven and toast, 25-30 minutes, or until dry and evenly golden-brown, shaking sheet halfway through to get an even toast. Set aside.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat.

Stir in the honey, sugar and water.

Bring to a boil, no longer stirring.

Cook 4-6 minutes, or until the mixture becomes a darker amber and is deeply fragrant like caramel. A candy thermometer is super helpful here – you want to bring it to about 280º (soft crack stage).

Stir in the toasted pumpkin seeds.

Continue to cook until it reaches about 300º (hard crack stage on the thermometer).

Spread seeds and caramel onto a baking sheet lined with a nonstick baking mat or parchment.

Sprinkle with coarse or flaked sea salt.

Let sit at least 1 hour to cool and set up. Once set, break into pieces.

Thanks to Carrie King for writing this post and developing the recipe. When Carrie’s not encouraging me in tiny-apartment cooking adventures, she’s a food writer and editor. Her cookbook work includes Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner….Life with Missy Robbins and The Chef Next Door with Amanda Freitag. She has contributed to Gather Journal and Life & Thyme and works as recipe editor at Marley Spoon and Dinnerly. Thanks to culinary school and lots of time spent in kitchens, both professional and home, she can cook just about anything, but usually just wants a few couple few slices of pizza.

For the curious:

Our linen dishtowels are a few years old from Fog Linen.

Our cast iron skillet is from The Field Company

Our milk pot is made by the Reiss and similar to this one.

I bought our uncoated sheet trays 5 or 6 years ago. I believe they might be made of aluminized steel, like these ones, but they’re unmarked. 

This post includes affiliate links. Reading My Tea Leaves might earn a small commission on the goods purchased through those links. 

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  • Reply Haley October 29, 2018 at 12:02 pm

    Pumpkin seed brittle? That sounds amazing and delicious.

    • Reply Carrie King October 29, 2018 at 12:33 pm

      It is, Haley! It is!

  • Reply Jennifer October 29, 2018 at 12:23 pm

    A fellow Halloween grump! Glad I’m not the only one. To me the best part about Halloween is…it means only a few weeks until Thanksgiving!

    • Reply Carrie King October 29, 2018 at 12:30 pm

      Yasss. So glad to know I’m not the only one, Jennifer!

    • Reply Schuyler October 29, 2018 at 5:21 pm

      Ha – same here! Least favorite fête, but very favorite season. 🙂

  • Reply LaTonya October 29, 2018 at 1:08 pm

    Going to try this tonight!


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