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Croccante - Italian Pine Nut Brittle



I hope you're all enjoying this fun time of year. I love all the holiday baking and decorating and gift buying. Plus we have two boys who have birthdays this month. And I just have to show you their birthday cakes that I got from A Piece O' Cake bakery where I live.  They are works of art:

Aren't they beautiful?  They're both so different (just like our boys)!  Then we get to enjoy the Christmas season.  Here's a little Christmas cheer from my house to yours:

Do you need a good recipe this holiday season for a nice homemade gift?  This Italian brittle is beautiful and delicious and a snap to make.  Traditionally, it is made with almonds but this version is from Gina DePalma and has a little twist - she makes it with pine nuts.  You can certainly make it with whatever nuts you like.  I've made it with hazelnuts and that is nice, too.  Gina also crumbles it up as uses it as a topping for cheesecakes at Babbo.  I've also  included some links to some more homemade treats you can make from other bloggers at the end of this post.

tip:  When making this recipe, or any recipe that calls for a candy thermometer, do yourself a favor and get a digital thermometer with a clip like this one.  It's much easier to use than a glass one, which you have to hold in the pan and you always end up burning your fingers and they are not as accurate as the ones with a digital readout.  



Pine Nut Croccante

from Dolce Italiano
for a printer friendly recipe, click here 


makes about 4 cups


  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick or 2 ounces) unsalted butter
  • 4 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 cups pine nuts 


Line a 13-by-9-inch jelly-roll pan with parchment or wax paper, then lightly grease the paper with nonstick cooking spray or butter.

In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, stir the sugar and water together.  Add the butter and corn syrup and clip a candy thermometer to the side of the pan.  Place the pan over medium-high heat and bring the mixture to a boil.  Turn up the heat to high and continue to cook until the mixture turns deep golden brown and registers 350 degrees F on the candy thermometer.

Immediately turn off the heat and very carefully remove the candy thermometer. Stir in the salt with a large wooden spoon or a heatproof spatula, then stir in the pine nuts.  Make sure the caramel coats all the nuts.

Turn the mixture out onto the jelly-roll pan and, using a spatula, spread it toward the sides of the pan so the nuts are in a single layer.  Let the brittle cool completely before breaking it into pieces and storing in an airtight plastic container.  Keep in a cool, dry place for up to 2 weeks.

To prepare the brittle for a garnish or topping, break it into small pieces and then chop it using a large chef's knife.  (I just broke mine apart).


If you'd like more ideas for neat holiday treats, how about these:

Heidi over at 101 Cookbooks has these beautiful Sparkling Cranberries and I'm definitely making these.

Delicious Days has fun Cocoa Hazelnut Spritz Cookies.

Gaby (my goddaughter) over at What's Gaby Cooking has some incredible Devil's Food Cake Snowballs.

Luisa, The Wednesday Chef, has pretty Cardamom Pistachio Cookies.

And Maggie at Dog Hill Kitchen has dairy-free Vanilla Bean Cupcakes.

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Reader Comments (17)

what a fabulous post! And those cakes look sooo amazing - happy birthday to Nick and Barry! Thanks for the link to my snowballs - they are delicious! I am going to make this brittle for my parents when I am in Seattle next week!

December 18, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterWhats Gaby Cooking

A warm-hearted post and I adore those birthday cakes. I wish I knew how to use fondant. I can see me making one big mess. I love how modern they look.

December 18, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAngela@Spinachtiger

I came back to say that site held all my information, which is great. I have until 26th to decide what to do about square space.I'm really leaning....thanks for your help and happy birthday to your sons and Merry Christmas. Angela

December 18, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAngela@Spinachtiger

Great looking cakes! Never tried to make brittle but this looks good.

December 18, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLucia

I love Babbo (celebrated by birthday there a few years ago) and I love pinenuts - therefore, I'm sure to love this and must try it!

December 18, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCooking with Michele

this looks wonderful! great blog...

December 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJenn

Your brittle looks amazing! Thanks for sharing :)

December 20, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKarine

I love those cakes Elaine! Happy birthday to your sons. Wow December is a busy month for you. Your home looks warm and inviting, I know the food is outstanding, what fortunate friends and family you have! Have a blessed holiday my friend.

December 21, 2009 | Unregistered Commentermarie

looks good! thanks for the tip about the digital candy thermometer. will have to invest in one!

December 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDina

I can't say I've seen brittle before made with pinenuts. This looks like a delightful variation. Somehow, pinenuts to me just scream Christmas. Maybe because they are so pale and white.

Hope you had a lovely holiday!

December 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJulia @ Mélanger

Hi Elaine,,

My name is Madison Harris and I'm a relationship manager at, a leading web retailer for Pine Nuts (though I should note we also sell many other nuts, dried fruit, candy and trail mixes). :)

Our users love our products but have increasingly told us that they’re interested in information about the nutritional aspects of Pine Nuts as well as health tips and recipes. As we only seek to please our customers, we’ve begun compiling a list of the best informational sites for Pine Nuts lovers-- you can see our progress here:

As you can see, we’ve linked to your site in an effort to connect our customers with useful information about the Pine Nuts they love, and we’re hoping you’ll be willing to return the favor by linking back to our Pine Nuts product page. :) If you do a web search you’ll see NutsOnline consistently has low prices and very favorable customer satisfaction.

We’d be eternally grateful if you could place a link to: within the text "Pine Nuts" on your site, so that if people are interested in buying Pine Nuts, they’ll know exactly where to go!

Let me know your thoughts or if you have any questions, and I’ll follow up right away-- feel free to contact me directly at I’d be more than happy to tell you more about NutsOnline and provide any follow up detail you’d like!

Very Best Regards,


Madison Harris
Relationship Manager, NutsOnline

March 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMadison Harris

This looks so delicious! :)

You don't by any chance know a good place to find pine nuts, do you?
I've been looking around online for these so I can make Pine Nut Croccante also. :)

Really like your blog


April 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTina

From The Italian Dish:

Tina: Gosh, most grocery stores carry pine nuts. You can get them just about anywhere. Some groceries have larger bags of them in their produce areas. Sam's Club and Costco sells them. And, of course, if you do a Google search, you can find lots of resources for pine nuts.

April 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterElaine

I will *definitely* be trying this.
@Tina- I normally get my Pine Nuts from NutsOnline-- I've looked a fair bit and they seem to consistently have the best prices.
Lovely blog and post-- all looks really tasty!

April 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSally

I made this tonight, but pine nuts were super expensive at the store so I substituted pepitas. It still turned out fab! Thanks!

December 23, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterzay

Pine Nuts in Sam's Club in Northern NJ are only $10.43 for a 15 oz bag which is only 44 cents more than the 7 oz bag from NutsOnline!

January 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLooks yummy!

I LOVE this stuff, but it's never occurred to me to make it myself! Thank you for the recipe!!

March 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCathleen

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