The high counters of Italian grocery stores were covered with treasures, and the tall glass jar of croccante always caught my eye. The word croccante translates to the adjective crisp or crunchy, but the noun croccante is so much more that that. Essentially a brittle of deeply caramelized sugar with nuts or seeds, croccante has a history dating back centuries in Italy. The dolce is popular at holidays and celebrations, each region having their own specialty generally depending upon the local nut harvest.
Croccante is easy to make and oh so irresistible. It can be served on a cookie tray, crumbled on top a scoop of gelato, or accompanied with a nice espresso. I guarantee you this croccante is a guilty pleasure and will not be around for long.
- 6 ounces of shelled pistachios
- 1 cup of granulated sugar
- 1 Tbs. honey
- ¼ cup of fresh water
- Rimmed baking sheet lightly oiled with a neutral tasting vegetable oil
- ½ orange or ½ peeled potato to spread the hot croccante
- Have two oven mitts close to the stove top and the baking sheet oiled. The cut orange or potato should be near the baking sheet, set a trivet nearby along with a heat proof spatula
- The nuts should be placed next to the stove top. Place the sugar, honey and the ¼ cup of water into a saucepan over medium-high heat. Melt the sugar without stirring, occasionally tilt the pan from side to side to gather any sugar crystals that may form along the sides of the pan. It is essential that you stay near the stove during this process. When the sugar becomes a rich golden, add the pistachios all at once and stir well with the heatproof spatula. Once the nuts have been well coated with the caramel sugar, immediately turn the hot caramel-nut mixture onto the oiled baking sheet and rest the empty pan on the trivet. Spread the croccante with either the flat side of orange or the potato - if you are inexperienced, I suggest using the potato. Pressing too hard on the orange will release the juice from the fruit and make it difficult for the croccante to evenly harden.
- Allow the croccante to completely harden into one solid piece, about 1 hour. Once hardened, remove from the oiled pan, break into irregular segments and store in an airtight container. Do not refrigerate.