In Season: Scary Spiced Pumpkin Seed Peanut Brittle

Posted at 5:00 AM Oct 29, 2009

By Kathleen Willcox

Peanut brittle is a quintessential semi-healthy fall snack. I make at least a dozen batches of it every year for parties, football games and between-meals munching--along with ginger snap cookies and mugs of hot apple-cinnamon cider. It just doesn't feel like October until I do ... but traditional peanut brittle is so sixth-grade homeroom.

It's great in its place, but it stopped seducing my palate years ago; I just never stopped making it. After my second blech batch a week ago though, I started doing some experimenting, and I decided the freaky fruits of my tinkering could go hand-in-hand with my new Halloween game plan. Because the notion of stuffing trick or treaters' outstretched Jack O' Lanterns with handfuls of mini Snickers and Milky Ways was really not getting me revved to run out to the $0.99 store and stock up.

But Halloween is about stuffing your face with too much candy, having a sugar-induced hyperactive meltdown crazy pants hissy fit and being sent to bed with a sick tummy (at least that's how I've been kickin' it for three decades). So I'm not about to start handing out carrots or pennies.

But there has to be middle ground, right? Delicious, sugary recipes that hark back to the halcyon pre-Nestle days of yore and don't make me want to scream with boredom. My solution: an appropriately unhealthy recipe that is somewhat balanced by um, antioxidants?

Recipe: Scary Spiced Pumpkin Seed Peanut Brittle
Serves one small hood of hungry trick-or-treaters

1 T peanut oil
3/4 C shelled unsalted peanuts
3/4 C shelled pumpkin seeds
1/4 C sesame seeds (optional)
1 t each: cayenne pepper, cumin, cinnamon, salt
1 C sugar
1/3 C light corn syrup
2 T butter
¼ C water
½ t baking soda
Cooking spray


  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Toss peanuts and pumpkin seeds in oil and spice mix.
  • Throw on baking sheet with cooking spray and pop in the oven. Make sure they're spread in an even layer.
  • Roast until fragrant, watching carefully so they don't burn, about 10 minutes. Sprinkle the sesame seeds onto the mix and roast for another minute or two.
  • Take out of the oven, turn it off and reserve the mix.
  • Mix sugar, corn syrup, butter and water in a saucepan over low. Stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until smooth and the sugar has caramelized. As soon as it approaches the color of hay, keep a close eye on it; don't let it get darker than, well, caramel.
  • Remove from the heat and stir in salt and baking soda. Add the peanut and seed mix, heat her up again until everything is warm and liquidy and dump onto another well-greased baking sheet (buttered parchment paper and silpats work wonders will work best) and spread it out as evenly as possible with a wooden spoon. Let cool and harden on top of the still-warm oven. Break into pieces.
  • Serve and enjoy!


Wendy said:

I would make this recipe if I didn't think I would eat the whole batch. Amazingly yummy sounding. Great combo of spices. Really 1 t. of cayenne?

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