Croccante has always been a indulgence of mine; whether it be pistachio, almond, or hazelnut. It is simple and sweet yet packs so much flavor, not to mention a toothsome crunch. Sesame Croccante /Sesame Brittle or Croccante di Sesamo is typical of Calabria and Sicily; the ingredients reflecting the long history of Arab influence in these regions.
In Italy although croccante is most prevalent around the Christmas holidays, it can certainly be found year round. Obviously high in sugar content, Sesame Croccante is a dairy free & gluten free way to satisfy your sweet tooth.
The ingredients are few and simple – sesame seeds, sugar, citrus rinds, cinnamon and a bit of your favorite honey. The necessary equipment is basic, nothing that could not be found in a typical kitchen.
The key to preparing Sesame Crocccante or any croccante for that matter is timing the caramelization of the sugar. Little fussing is needed, however patience and attention are key. Once the sugar syrup begins to color it can go from golden to burnt in a short period of time. Its important to have all of the other equipment and ingredients in place to move quickly the moment that the hot caramel is ready.
Sesame Crocante is an lovely accompaniment to an espresso when you have the urge from something sweet. Give it a try and I am certain it will become a part of your year round repertoire.
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- 2 cups of untoasted sesame seeds
- Finely grated rind of 1 orange
- Finely grated rind of 1 lemon
- 1 tsp. grated cinnamon
- 1½ cup of granulated sugar
- 1 Tbs. flavorful honey
- 6 Tbs. fresh cool water
- Vegetable oil to grease a rimmed heavy duty baking sheet
- 1 whole russet potato, washed and sliced in half
- Preheat the oven to 350º, spread the sesame seeds out over a heavy duty rimmed baking sheet and toast for 5 minutes. Once you have removed the lightly toasted sesame seeds from the oven, turn them out onto the kitchen counter to cool.
- Lightly oil the heavy duty rimmed baking sheet with the vegetable oil and a paper towel.
- Combine the cooled sesame seeds, citrus rinds, and cinnamon together in a mixing bowl. Mix well using a spatula to make sure that the citrus rinds do not cling together; the citrus rinds and cinnamon should be evenly combined with the sesame seeds.
- Place the sugar, honey and water in a heavy saucepan that will accommodate the sesame seeds. Turn the heat to medium-high and allow the sugar to melt and the mixture to become homogenous. Remain at the stove while preparing the caramelized sugar, do not stir the sugar syrup. The syrup will begin to become golden and if needed you may tilt the pan from side to side to allow the caramelized portion to combine well. Once the syrup has achieved a deep golden caramel, add the sesame seeds all at once. The addition of the sesame mixture will effectively lower the temperature of the caramel, so keep the pan on the stove and turn with a heat proof spatula. Once well combined immediately turn the mixture onto the oiled baking sheet.
- Use the cut side of the potato to smooth out the molten mixture evenly to about ¼ of an inch thick.
- Allow the croccante to throughly cool. Once it is completely hardened, break it into irregular pieces and store in a sealed container. The croccante should not be refrigerated and will last indefinitely.
Ciao Chow Linda says
Why have I never thought of making this? I’ve bought it in stores but this looks so much better with the orange addition. What a great idea, especially as gifts for the holiday.
This makes a wonderful holiday gift, I done exactly that.
This looked so good, but the recipe didn’t really work for me. There did not seem to be enough syrup for the 2 cups of sesame seeds. Most of the seeds just crumbled. Little of it stuck together. I would love to make this again – it tasted great! But I would love it to come out like yours in the photo.
Laurie, that is so disappointing after all of your effort. Once you add the sesame seeds to the prepared caramel, it is important to continue to stir them over the heat along with the caramel. The addition of the sesame seeds effectively reduces the temperature of the caramel, causing it to solidify just a bit. Keeping the mixture over the flame will melt the caramel again, making it easier to incorporate the sesame seeds. The ration of sesame seeds to caramel in this recipe is quite high and the sugar syrup serves not only as a sweetener but a glue; unlike nut based crocante which has more of the hardened caramelized sugar. The other option would be to reduce the sesame seeds by 1/3 to 1/2 cup; but you still need to be sure that once you add the seeds, the caramel must return to a high temperature to become more viscous. I hope this helps and do not hesitate to contact me again. Buon Natale!
Camille J Ferrara says
M mom, who emigrated from Fuscaldo in Calabria, made something very similar. Instead of honey, she used molasses and instead of a potato, she used half an orange to smooth and shape the mixture. She called it (phonetic spelling here) joo-joo-LAY-nuh.
Paula Barbarito-Levitt says
The resourceful Calabrese would use whatever they had at hand, we are a special group of people. I am sure they were delicious, thank you for sharing. Buon Anno Camille