Pumpkin Seed Amber
When I first moved to DC 6ish years ago, I lived in a group house for about 3 of those years. For those that aren’t familiar with a group house, it’s basically when 4-6 adults try to live together in large house.
Think “The Real World” except it’s actually the real world and not a reality TV show. So it’s even more real.
The house I lived in took holidays seriously, but none more serious than Halloween. Every year we would throw a lavish 150 person Halloween party and spend way more time and money than we should’ve setting up for said party.
One of my favorite traditions was always pumpkin carving. There was something awesome about five twenty-somethings sitting around, watching “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” and carving pumpkins that somebody would inevitably puke in a few days later.
As we carved, we would always snack on roasted pumpkin seeds. We always had leftover seeds though and they would kind of just sit around and get stale.
This recipe is the definitive way to handle left over pumpkin seeds.
1) Rinse pumpkin seeds well and toss with seasonings.
2) Spread seeds out on baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
3) Bake seeds at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4) Meanwhile, combine water, sugar, and corn syrup in a sauce pan. Bring to a simmer.
5) Simmer, over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until syrup is a light amber color and very thick, about 45 minutes.
6) Stir pumpkin seeds into syrup. Work quickly.
7) Spread onto a silicon baking mat and let cool for 15-20 minutes. Then break into pieces.
Roughly adapted from an Alton Brown recipe.
Roasting the Seeds
While you can buy pumpkin seeds, that’s kind of cheating. Especially during the Halloween season. Also most pumpkin seeds that you buy are shelled (so they are a light green color), but I actually like them with the shells on. They have a bit more texture.
Once you get all of your seeds out of your many gourds, just rinse them off under some cold water and try to get off any huge bits of pumpkin guts. Then mix them with the salt, cinnamon, and pepper flakes and lay them out on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
The parchment paper just helps to make sure they don’t get really stuck to the sheet.
Bake these guys at 350 degrees for about 15-20 minutes. Stir them a few times throughout the cooking process.
They are done when they are slightly crunchy and lightly toasted.
Making the Amber
This kind of candy has a lot of different names: brickle, brittle, sugar candy, addictive, etc. I chose to call it Amber this time around because for some reason it reminded me of when they have bugs trapped in tree sap.
Whatever you choose to call it, it’s actually pretty easy to make, but does require one thing: Patience.
To start, measure out your sugar, water, and corn syrup and add them to a pot. I like to use a digital scale for this just so I can make sure my ratios are exact. At the end of the day though, you can eyeball it, it just might make your cooking time longer if you mess it up.
It’s possible that you don’t need corn syrup for this, but I think it makes it a little easier to work with. If it’s your first time making sugar candy like this, I recommend it. If you’re an expert, you can probably do it without the corn syrup.
Anyway, just bring this mixture to a simmer and simmer it over medium heat. After about 20 minutes, it will be bubbling like crazy and start to reduce significantly. Stir it occasionally and just keep letting it reduce down.
After about 35-45 minutes, it will start to turn a light amber color and foam. This means that most of the water is out of the mixture which is exactly what you want.
At this point, you’re racing the clock.
Kill the heat and stir in your pumpkin seeds. Again, work quickly here. The last thing you want is for this to solidify in your pan!
Pour this mixture out onto a silicone baking mat and use a spatula to spread it out evenly.
If you don’t have one of these nice silicone mats, I think you could use wax paper or parchment paper. You definitely don’t want to let this stuff cool on something that isn’t nonstick as it’ll fuse to it and you’ll never get it off.
Let this huge block of awesome cool for about 20 minute and then you can start cracking it into pieces.
I love just breaking it into random shards.
This stuff ended up being completely addicting. It’s obviously sweet, but it’s also salty and a bit spicy from the pumpkin seeds.
The seeds also give the candy some great texture. So you get this big crunch from the candy and then kind of a chewy texture from the seeds.
Plus it just looks cool!
So, if you have some seeds laying around from your pumpkin carving, give this a shot.
It takes some patience, but the results are really delicious!