Half the fun of Halloween is getting your hands on the goopy pumpkin seed guts. Nothing transports you back to childhood like the aroma of roasting pumpkin seeds. A classic happy memory.
Here are two versions of pumpkin seed candy. The first, a sophisticated cumin-scented version. The second, good old Martha’s bon bon style.
PUMPKIN SEED BRITTLE
Adapted from a recipe by Guy Reuge
This recipe makes a beautiful brittle that tastes as good as it looks. You can omit the cumin, but you’ll lose the slight smoky note that provides an ideal contrast to the sugar. Chef Guy Reuge served the brittle at the Beard House as one of the mignardises, alongside macaroons and candied orange peel.
1 1/3 cups sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup water
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 3/4 cups shelled pumpkin seeds, also know as pepitas
Generously grease a cookie sheet or cover it with a silicone mat. Set aside.
Combine the sugar, corn syrup, butter, and water in a medium pot. Stir the sugar with your fingers to moisten so that no lumps remain. Cook the mixture over medium heat until it caramelizes, about 15 minutes. It’s done when it’s medium brown; be careful not to let it burn, which can happen in the blink of an eye.
Take the pot off the burner and immediately whisk in the salt, baking soda, and cumin. Quickly add the pumpkin seeds and stir until they are coated with the liquid caramel. If the mixture hardens too fast to allow you to stir in the seeds, return the pot to the heat for several seconds. Working quickly, pour the mixture on the baking sheet you prepared earlier and spread it with a rolling pin to about 1/4-inch thickness.
When the brittle has cooled and hardened, break it into pieces. Store it in an airtight container.
PUMPKIN SEED CANDY
Makes 30 pieces.
1 cup hulled pepitas
1/4 cup sugar
2/3 cup good quality honey
3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, plus 2 tablespoons melted for brushing
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add pepitas; toast, stirring constantly until seeds pop and become slightly golden, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl to cool.
Place sugar and honey in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar, about 3 minutes. Add pepitas, and continue cooking until temperature registers 285 degrees.on a candy thermometer, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in cold butter.
Let the mixture cool to 240 degrees. about 4 minutes. Meanwhile, brush the inside of fifteen 1-inch-diameter black paper cups with melted butter, reserving 1 tablespoon. Spoon a scant tablespoon of the honey mixture into each cup. Brush a clean work surface with the remaining butter, and spoon the remaining honey mixture on it so mixture will continue to cool.
When remaining candy is stiff and cool enough to handle, about 6 minutes, cut into 3/4-inch pieces with a greased knife. Put one piece of candy in center of each of fifteen 4-by-4-inch pieces of orange cellophane wrap, gather cellophane at the top, and secure with a twist of a 4 1/2-inch piece of floral wire. Wrap the ends of floral wire around a skewer to form tendrils.