I'm still rolling my eyes at all the things that are bizarrely pumpkin spiced this time of year, but the flavor gave me an idea for another kind of seasonal treat: Spiced Pepita Brittle.
I've been wanting to try my hand at brittle for some time, and though a peanut or almond brittle is a more obvious place to start, pepitas were calling to me. Pepitas are pumpkin seeds, just not from the same kind of pumpkin you carved for Halloween. I love pepitas for their earthy green color and texture. I also think they're much tastier than the pumpkin seeds I usually end up picking out of pumpkin guts.
These pepitas are not getting the pumpkin spice treatment, but I did want to add some warm spices. A bit of cinnamon, cardamom and chipotle complement the nuttiness of the pepitas and feel right for the season. Freshly ground nutmeg rounds things out, and I do mean freshly ground. Grinding whole spices is always preferred, but the difference with nutmeg between the fresh spice and the preground spice is astounding. The resulting brittle is not spicy in terms of heat; it's just spiced.
Breaking brittle is the most fun part of this process. Make sure to let the sheet of shiny brittle cool completely before using your hands to break it into shards. A two- or three-bite piece is what we're going for here.
And then, share the brittle wealth. This recipe makes much more than two people can eat in a week. Brittle is a salty-sweet and crunchy snack that is excellent with beer, and your friends will be so grateful if you show up with it at the next happy hour. Or pack a few pieces in small bags and hand out pepita brittle as gifts for the upcoming holidays. Fold it into ice cream. We haven't found a wrong way to brittle yet.
Ileana Morales Valentine lives in St. Petersburg with her husband. For more of their kitchen stories, visit her blog, ALittleSaffron.com. Say hello at [email protected]