A Halfway-to-Granola-Bar Brittle with Maple, Buckwheat & Oats

March 20, 2018

A couple years ago, I made peanut-cashew brittle as a holiday gift. It was thick, crunchy, buttery, and, in retrospect, an awful idea. Classic brittle involves sugar-boiling. Corn syrup, the sticky nemesis of measuring cups, was involved, too. You need a candy thermometer. You need to stand over the stove. You need to work quickly. Quicker, quicker! Anyway, my relatives and friends loved it but—PSA, guys—never again.

Then, I read The Natural Baker by Henrietta Inman, and I learned: There’s another way to brittle. (Does a lil’ dance at her desk.) Same sweet, crackly confection, except everything else is different. You don’t need sugar. You don’t need corn syrup. You don’t need a candy thermometer. You don’t even need to stand over the stove—the oven is your ally here—and you don’t need to act quickly.

“I really wanted to create an easier option that’s just as delicious, if not more so, than the classic,” Inman wrote me. “Instead of melting granulated sugar, I thought I’d skip a stage and start with a liquid sweetener already.”

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This sort of out-of-the-box approach is why we fell in love with The Natural Baker. Because Inman’s recipes are unconventional, they come with a lot of trial and error: “There were a few failed attempts,” she said of the brittle, “but I got there eventually.” (Go, Henrietta, go!) Instead of using sugar, the recipes uses malty, rich maple syrup: “It’s not too sweet, and it works really well with all the flavors of the nuts.”

Nuts and friends, that is. In the original recipe, Inman calls for Brazil nuts, macadamia nuts, and cashews—plus buckwheat groats and buckwheat flakes. These toast in the oven—the raw groats essentially becoming kasha—adding more texture and flavor. Our only question is: Why haven’t we thought to put grains in brittle before?

Brittle, is that you?! Photo by Bobbi Lin

Our adapted version uses oats instead of buckwheat flakes—a suggestion from the book—and switches up the nuts. Switch them up again, if you want, just keep similar measurements, and remember to pick strange brittle-fellows: say, something crunchy, like almonds, plus something creamy, like pecans.

In The Natural Baker, Inman writes: “Snap it up as a snack, have a piece or two with a cup of tea, or it’s just delicious served in shards with ice cream or thick yogurt.” Crumbled atop yogurt, you say? As in, brittle for breakfast? Don’t mind if we do!

Have you ever made brittle before? Give us the deets in the comments below!

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Emma was the food editor at Food52. She created the award-winning column, Big Little Recipes, and turned it into a cookbook in 2021. These days, she's a senior editor at Bon Appétit, leading digital cooking coverage. Say hello on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.

1 Comment

Sophie March 23, 2018
Just a tip for anyone who hasn't heard yet. When you want to measure corn syrup (or honey, maple syrup, molasses etc.) give your measuring cup a light spray with oil before you pour the syrup in- it slides right out! Now you don't lose half of your measured portion to the cup.