• Sarah Rainey

Candied cashew brittle


It's one of those gorgeous January days when, despite the wintry chill in the air, the sun is shining, the skies over London are piercing blue... and suddenly 2019 feels full of possibility. And tasty food, obviously.

In a slight variation on my usual theme, this morning I've been testing a recipe that uses some pretty healthy ingredients. Don't worry, I'm not going all maca powder and hemp seeds on you... these are very ordinary, recognisable foods that just happen to be good for you.

Today's ingredients are: cashew nuts, raw wildflower honey and date sugar (made from 100% powdered dates), all sourced from this lovely international health foods supplier, based in Kent. Here they are in all their glory...

Full disclosure: they sent some samples over for me to trial a recipe or two - but I wouldn't put it up on here if I wasn't ENTIRELY happy with the results. The prices are good too; the packets are pretty big so you get wholesale pricetags (and plenty of leftovers for next time).

I was particularly intrigued by the date sugar - an alternative sweetener made from dehydrated dates, far better for you than white or brown refined sugar, and packed full of fibre - and love how it gives the brittle a toffee-like, treacley taste. Cashews are a great nut to use in baking as they're creamy and high in protein, and raw honey is completely untreated, unprocessed and unheated - it goes straight into the jar from the hive.

You can, of course, use non-organic nuts, supermarket runny honey and ordinary granulated sugar if you prefer - but I'd recommend giving these newbie ingredients a whirl. You'll find full details via the links in the ingredients list below.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

200g organic cashew nuts

4 tbsp raw wildflower honey

100g date sugar

Method:

Preheat the grill to 200C (fan 180C) and spread the cashew nuts out on a baking tray.

Once the grill has reached temperature, toast the nuts under it for 5 minutes, tossing them halfway, until they're just starting to turn golden brown. Set aside.

Meanwhile, put the date sugar in a small saucepan over a low-medium heat. Let it cook gently, and, when it's just starting to colour on the bottom, add the honey and stir vigorously.

As the sugar melts and the honey heats, the mixture should start to bubble and turn a gorgeous, rich brown. You may need to add a splash or two of water; you want it to reach the consistency of thick cream.

Continue heating the sugar and honey together for around 20-30 minutes. You can use a sugar thermometer to check it's reached 'soft ball' stage - or, the easier option, plop a tiny droplet of the mixture into a glass of hot water and, if it holds its shape, it's ready.

Spread a sheet of greaseproof paper over a chopping board or tray.

Add the toasted cashews to the saucepan, stir until completely coated and tip the mixture out on to the greaseproof paper. Use a lightly-greased palette knife or rolling pin (to stop it from sticking) to flatten the brittle out into a single layer.

Set aside in a cool place (or the fridge) for at least a few hours to harden. Carefully peel the greaseproof paper off the back of the brittle before bashing or chopping it into generous shards. Tuck in immediately!

It will keep for 4-5 days in an airtight tin, but eat it fast for optimum crunch.

TIP: Cleaning the saucepan can be a nightmare after heating sugar. My advice is to soak it in boiling water (you don't need soap or washing up liquid) for 10 minutes immediately after cooking, and any remnants should just glide off. Better still, put the pan (plus water) back on the hob for 5 minutes to dissolve the sugar instantly.

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Content © Sarah Rainey

Photos © Clare Winfield, Alex Luck & Al Richardson

Styling © Emma Lahaye, Octavia Squire, Laurie Perry & Sarah Rainey

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