Pine Nut Brittle with Rosemary

By • October 27, 2011 144 Comments

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Author Notes: Pine nuts and rosemary are two flavors that scream "holidays" to me. It's probably the closest you can get to eating the Christmas tree without getting tinsel in your teeth. So I decided to combine them here with another Christmas classic that dentists love to hate: brittle. Enjoy!Ms. T

Food52 Review: We love pine nuts and rosemary together (could anything be more evocative of rolling Tuscan hills?), but the idea of combining them in brittle form struck us as groundbreaking. Ms. T has you cloak the pine nuts in a buttery caramel, and while it’s still hot you stir in plenty of chopped rosemary, which then infuses the brittle with its perfume. A shower of crunchy sea salt is the finishing touch. A word of caution: be careful, or you may find yourself demolishing half the batch in one sitting, like we did! – A&MThe Editors

Makes enough for one big tin or about 6 little bags of treats

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups pine nuts
  • 8 tablespoons (one stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon finely ground sea salt (I used grey sea salt)
  1. Place the sugar in a large, heavy saucepan over high heat and stir with a wooden spoon until sugar begins to melt. Lower the heat to medium-high and keep stirring just until the sugar is melted. Stop stirring and watch for it to turn a medium caramel color. About 10 minutes total.
  2. Stir in pine nuts, and then butter. Allow pine nuts to cook for about two minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in half of the rosemary and half of the sea salt.
  3. Turn the mixture out onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper, and spread it evenly to the desired thickness with a wooden spoon or stiff rubber spatula. Sprinkle remaining rosemary and salt on top, while brittle is still warm.
  4. Allow to cool completely--at least one hour--then break the brittle into pieces and store in an airtight container at room temperature. If your brittle isn't brittle enough to break into pieces, pop it in the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes, until it hardens enough to snap easily.

More Great Recipes: Candy

Topics: Holiday Entertaining, Hanukkah

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Comments (144) Questions (6)


9 months ago RaquelG

I've made this for several Christmases now to rave reviews! The rosemary really is the kicker... I usually mix it in rather than sprinkle on top. Divine!


over 1 year ago insecureepicure

I teach cooking and I used this recipe in one of my classes. I try to teach fast desserts that are little bits of sweet and low carb. This brittle is delicious.


over 1 year ago The Principal Cook

Wow! We made this last night for giving to friends and quickly discovered how addictive it is! Following LeeLeeBee's suggestion, we added 2 teaspoons of baking soda after we took it off the heat, and it came out beautifully. A brilliant recipe!


over 1 year ago roughcut

Can I use Earth Balance to make this vegan?


5 months ago Amy Hayes

Yes! I have done that and it turned out beautifully.


over 1 year ago Melissa Slattery

I had clumping from too much stuirring but medium heat and patience smoothed things out. Once the butter was in it took a while for it to completely incorporate. Once it did everything was fine. My first try ever at butter brickle, it really is fabulous I'm having trouble not eating it all right now.


over 1 year ago ElisaVR

Hi, I'm new to making brittle, so maybe that is my problem...but when I just made this, it didn't turn out at all. When I added the pinenuts they suck together with the sugar right away, clumping up, and it was very hard to stir. It seemed like there was not enough of the sugar (although I did follow the proportions). Then when I added the butter, it got all grainy. So I have a pan full of wonderful tasting sugar coated pinenuts...but not at all brittle. Any suggestions? Thank you!


over 1 year ago DavyD

The sugar needs to be completely melted before you add the pine nuts. I found that only occasionally stirring the sugar as it melted prevented clumping. Also, keeping the heat on low while mixing in the butter and pine nuts will prevent clumps.


over 1 year ago serafinadellarosa

Just made this last night and it's out of this world. The pine nuts and butter clumped like made on me as well. I raised the heat and the sugar loosened up enough for me to be able to stir and pour.


over 1 year ago Kim Borland

How long does this keep. My husband made it for Thanksgiving (lucky me, he loves to cook) and we were saving some for Christmas. I had a little piece the other night and it seemed fine, though maybe a bit of Rosemary was tough?


over 1 year ago JSykes

This brittle looks awesome - but it seems to use a lot of pine nuts. I love them, but I'm afraid to eat more than a few. Anyone who has ever experienced a "taste disturbance" from them will know exactly what I'm talking about. Anyway, this is probably a bizarre sort of comment, but was just wondering if anyone had an issue with that.


over 1 year ago carswell

I toast the pine nuts first. It enhances the nuttiness and reduces any residual bitterness in the nuts.

I first made this a couple of years ago and it was a huge hit. It's now one of my yearly donations to the festive season's indulgences.


over 1 year ago koechin

i had been gifted with a large bag of raw cashews, so i toasted them and worked them into this brittle. for the top sprinkling salt i used a recipe for pomegranate salt that looked festively pink. don't know if it made much of a taste difference but it sure looked good. amazing recipe, thanks for giving me another kitchen gift recipe.


over 1 year ago Ms. T

Oooh, what a nice twist! Happy that my recipe could be your starting point :)


almost 2 years ago LeeLeeBee

This recipe was so, so good. Any thoughts on whether adding baking soda, like in traditional peanut brittle, will increase airiness and crunch?


over 1 year ago Ms. T

Hmmm...I've never tried it, but please report back if you try it! Glad you like the recipe :)


almost 2 years ago Ann Wilson

I'm assuming this brittle will stay 'hard and crunchy' if it's packaged properly. Sending some for holiday gifts. Anyone have suggestions regarding packaging?


almost 2 years ago Ms. T

Yes, just make sure it's fully cooled before you package it up in an airtight container. I usually use plastic food gift bags from the Container Store, tied with ribbon. I'm sure a cookie tin/or tupperware container would work too, but I would probably wrap in wax paper or plastic wrap inside.


over 2 years ago ChefFace

Yummm... Made this twice over the holidays, it was a huge hit, thank you so much for sharing ;)


over 2 years ago Bunnie1

The best gift I gave this year..... I used fresh rosemary I grow in my pot outside and sprinkled black cypress flake salt with pink river salt to the finished brittle ...... Beautiful !!!!!!!! Love love love this recipe!


over 2 years ago Karli

Has anyone used organic cane sugar for this recipe? I just tried to use I & quickly realized my conundrum...color, the sugar is already a light brown, so I had no way of knowing when it was ready for the pine nuts. Black, I waited till the sugar was waaayyy too dark/burned (after letting it cook for 10 min, per the recipe's instruction). Is there a temp that the sugar should be before putting in the pine nuts? Has anyone under browned the sugar before putting in the nuts & then not had it turn out right?



over 2 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

I use organic cane sugar for making caramels all the time, so I know what you're talking about. I find tilting the pan and checking what a thin layer of sugar looks like helps visualize the color change better. The sugar turns a nice golden brown in the 325-330º F range.


over 2 years ago Karli

Thank you! So helpful. Trying again...


over 3 years ago cheese1227

My oh my! Just made this to serve as a garnish to a blood orange and fennel salad I am serving tomorrow. It is fabulous!


over 3 years ago Choirbell

I made this brittle for Christmas and it was a huge success!!! Everyone loved the slightly sweet, salty savory flavors. It was a nice foil for all of the overly sweet goodies at the Christmas table!


over 3 years ago chop chop

Made this for christmas gifts to send out of town. A different confection for sure. Love it. So did the receipients. I had quite a bit myself in the process.


over 3 years ago charlotte au chocolat

This sounds incredible!


over 3 years ago CookingMomTR

Just made this and I can't wait for it to harden the buttery pine nuts melting in my mouth!


over 3 years ago Kris Collett

This is a great recipe. This probably goes without saying for many of you, but make sure you have everything well prepared and measured out before you start this recipe. I'm an experienced cook, so sometimes, especially if working on just one recipe at a time, I don't set everything up, and just measure my ingredients in short pauses that a lot of recipes require. This one doesn't have too many pauses, so I was scrambling a bit! Nevertheless, the brittle looks beautiful and turned out wonderfully. I used a flaky fleur de sel (sp?) rather than grey sea salt, and it's still delicious. Thanks for a great recipe. I'm so glad I found this site!