What happens when you let your 8 and 3 year old boys use your laptop to watch movies on a VERY long two day drive from northern Washington to southern California? Somehow all your settings have changed and your wireless modem has gotten turned off and your keys seem a bit sticky. I have no idea how any of this happened without my knowledge- I was sitting only three feet away from them after all. But however watchful I was, those little hands just seemed to find ways to get into trouble.
So this morning as I was all set to wax poetic about Christmas cookies and my favorite music mix for the season, those sticky keys started getting in the way. Whole paragraphs were lost and pictures needed reloading. I suppose it's just about right for how I feel in the kitchen these days though. Somehow things that I would never have trouble with are causing me grief. Is it just because I'm getting older? Are those two loveable but trouble-making munchkins driving me to distraction? I may never know.
The solution for me? More cookies. More treats. More baking. Even if what I make isn't the prettiest, the edges are a bit too brown or I make a huge mess in my kitchen, I don't mind. I don't even need to eat whatever I pull from my ovens, in fact I often give away much more than what I keep. It's the stirring, kneading, measuring and creating that are the important parts of the process for me. It's cathartic and relaxing. And if I end up needing to scrape an inch thick layer of solid hardened sugar off my candy thermometer because I forgot to pull it out of the pan at the right moment, so be it. Someone will enjoy the brittle I was making when Mt. Vesuvius erupted from the pot of boiling honey on my stove.
Chai Spiced Honeycomb Brittle
Adapted from Martha Stewart. Makes one rimmed baking sheet of brittle (plenty to pack into several Christmas cookie tins as gifts).
Click here for the printable.
The honey in this brittle gives it a nice depth of flavor and adds to the whole idea that the brittle is a bit like a honeycomb. The airy texture comes from adding baking soda to the hot caramel mixture, which a pretty neat chemical reaction for the kids to see. Just keep them away from the stove, 300 degree sugar can cause serious burns. And use a pretty large pot when cooking the caramel, the mixture will expand to at least twice the volume when you add the baking soda. You don't want to have to scrape that all off your counter if it overflows!
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup honey
3/4 tsp chai spice mix*
1 tbs baking soda
Line a rimmed baking sheet with a silicone liner (you could also spray it with non-stick spray or rub a coating of vegetable oil over the pan). Set aside.
Stir together the sugar, water, honey and spices in a large saucepan. Over high heat bring the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to medium high and continue to cook the simmering mixture, stirring occasionally. Using a candy thermometer, monitor the temperature of the caramel. You need the caramel to reach 300 degrees, which will take about 15-20 minutes. When the caramel reaches 300 degrees, remove the pan from the stove and whisk in the baking soda. The mixture will increase in volume significantly, so be careful of your fingers!
Immediately pour the brittle mixture into your prepared pan, letting it settle naturally into the pan. If you try to spread it out, it will lose it's airy texture. It will settle on its own. When it's cool, break the brittle into pieces and store in an airtight container for up to one week.
* You can use a ready made chai mix if you can find one in your market in the spice section. I like to make my own mix. I use 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp ground ginger, 1/2 tsp ground cloves and 3/4 tsp ground cardamom.