Pumpkin Seed Brittle


If you are going to rot your teeth out with sweets on this Halloween, why not do it with a sweet, savory, nutty, homemade confection, that also makes use of the often discarded remnants of jack-o-lantern carving??

There are many recipes for pumpkin seed brittle out there, but most use the raw, hulled seeds (or pepitas).  Really wanting to use the seeds from my own carved pumpkin, instead of buying additional ones at the health food store, I did track down instructions to try to hull my own.  It can be done, but was not wildly successful, or worth the effort, in my opinion.

First you rinse off the seeds and thoroughly dry them out, which I did in a 250 degree oven for about 15 minutes.  Then crack and smash the outer part of the seeds with a rolling pin, or in my case, a meat tenderizer.  Then, place all of the seeds in a bowl, fill with water, swish them around vigorously, and theoretically, the inner seed kernels will sink and the outer shells will float to the top.  Which did happen in my case, for about six of the seeds.  The rest didn’t really get smashed effectively or broke in half completely, and I found myself picking each seed from its shell—not practical when I needed at least a half cup.

So then, why not make brittle using the entire seed, which we eat anyway when making roasted pumpkin seeds?  Success!  And still getting to use our own seeds.  And much easier.  And the added bonus of ending up with a flavor almost identical to caramel corn, with some nutty seeds thrown in.  Cracker Jack!

So wishing you a very happy Halloween, and treat yourself to this treat very soon.  (and all winter long with any winter squash seeds.)

Pumpkin Seed Brittle
By Catie Schwalb

Makes about twelve ounces.

1 cup sugar
4 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
¼ teaspoon baking soda
½ cup toasted whole pumpkin seeds
sea salt

To toast pumpkin seeds:

Heat the oven to 300 degrees F.

Scoop the seeds from the pumpkin.  Do not rinse, but remove any large pieces or strings of pumpkin pulp.  Any small remaining bit of pumpkin on the seeds will add a terrific flavor.  Spread out on a baking sheet in a single layer and toast in the oven for about 20 minutes, until fragrant and lightly golden.  Remove the seeds from the sheet (or they will overcook) and allow to cool.

For the brittle:

Lightly grease a baking sheet or line with a non-stick Silpat.  Lightly oil the back of a mixing spoon or spatula, and set aside.

In a saucepan, combine sugar, brown sugar, butter, and ¼ cup of water.  Cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture reaches 300 degrees, or the “hard crack” stage, (Where if you place a drop of the mixture in a bowl of cold water, it will be the consistency of hard candy, not malleable at all.).

Once it reaches the desired temperature, remove from heat immediately and carefully stir in the baking soda.  This will cause the caramel to froth up considerably.  Add the toasted pumpkin seeds and stir to combine.

Pour the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet and spread out with the lightly oiled spoon or spatula.  Sprinkle with sea salt.  Allow to cool and harden.  Break the brittle into pieces, and store in an airtight container.


4 responses to “Pumpkin Seed Brittle”

  1. Zanthe says:

    This looks SO MUCH better than the recipe I made from Gourmet, which was too dark for me and didn’t have any butter in it. Two questions, though: what is the purpose of the baking soda? And How do you immerse a candy thermometer properly–mine never reaches the “immersion” marker on it, as I’ve never got it in a deep enough mixture (despite using a small saucepan). I always tilt it forwards and hope the bulb is far enough in to give an accurate measure, but wondering if there’s some other trick?

    • Catie says:

      Better than Gourmet…such high praise! Thanks!!

      Here is a great description of why the baking soda is helpful for the texture (from: http://www.finecooking.com/articles/how-to/peanut-brittle.aspx) “The trick, though, is to make a candy that’s truly brittle so that it breaks when you bite it, rather than a hard candy that must be sucked like a lollipop or toffee. By adding baking soda to the sugar syrup, you unleash a zillion minuscule air bubbles that give the candy a porous, delicate texture. Butter also helps to make the candy tender and easier to chew, as well as adding its own rich flavor.”

      I have the same issue with the candy thermometer. I either tilt my saucepan, or double the recipe. If you get quick and good at it, dunking a drop of the caramel in a bowl of water to check for the hard crack stage, often ends up being easier than dealing with a thermometer.


  2. What a fantastic alternative to fun sized junk that seems to attack from all sides this time of year. And with your presentation it might even work for trick or treaters (do you get any up there?) My mom and I have a tradition of toffee making, but I confess that I burn it as often as it works. Going to give your recipe a shot.

  3. Ryan James says:

    I may try this with Xylitol to cut the sugar. I love pumpkin seeds, but being diabetic, this would not be a good treat.

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Catie Baumer Schwalb is a chef, food writer and photographer, who splits her life between the city and the country. Not too long ago Catie was a New York City based actress and playwright for more than a decade. She has her Master of Fine Arts from the National Theater Conservatory, and her Grand Diplôme in classic culinary arts from the French Culinary Institute in New York City. ... Read More

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