Sweet and Sour Pine Nut Brittle with Honey and Vinegar

Honey and Vinegar Pine Nut Brittle with Rosemary

Sweet and sour is one of my favorite flavor combinations. The Italians have an all-purpose sweet and sour sauce known as agrodulce. It’s used to add punch to everything from braised sweet onions to rabbit. The French serve up this combination of yin and yang in classic dishes such as duck à l’orange. I’m sure you recall the sweet and sour pork made famous by Chinese restaurants all across the North American continent too. The unifying sour element in all of these preparations keeps them solidly in the savory category. But what about a sweet and sour dessert? That sounds like something I could get excited about. Better yet, how about sweet and sour candy? I’m not talking about sweet and sour gummy worms either. I’m thinking about something more sophisticated. Something like Honey and Vinegar Pine Nut Brittle with Rosemary.

Maybe my interest in sweet and sour sweets comes from my introduction to the sweet and salty treats that have become all the rage lately. As with sweet and salty, sweet and sour defies dessert expectations. There’s something exciting about the strong bite of acid poised against something as delicately sweet as honey and pine nut brittle.

Honey and Vinegar Pine Nut Brittle with Rosemary

I love the sophisticated sweet and savory qualities of this grown up confection. But it’s the texture that really separates this candy from the jaw breaking sugar and corn syrup peanut brittle from your childhood. This rosemary-pine nut with honey and vinegar version certainly cracks and breaks as its name implies. However, once you put a piece in your mouth and start chewing, your body temperature melts the honey and changes the experience as this candy goes from brittle to chewy. It can be quite a mouthful, so I suggest you nibble on tiny pieces and take your time enjoying the sweet and savory experience. GREG

Honey and Vinegar Pine Nut Brittle with RosemaryHoney and Vinegar Pine Nut Brittle with Rosemary

Honey and Vinegar Pine Nut Brittle with Rosemary 

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Honey and Vinegar Pine Nut Brittle with Rosemary


  • ⅓ cup cider vinegar
  • 4 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary leaves (divided)
  • 6 ounce lightly toasted pine nuts
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup honey (at room temperature)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon flaky sea salt (such as Maldon) or to taste


Infuse the vinegar: Place vinegar and 2 teaspoons minced rosemary into a small jar with a lid. Seal and set aside in a cool dark place to infuse at least 6 hours and up to 3 days.

Make the brittle: Line a half sheet or larger baking sheet with parchment; set aside.

Mix the pine nuts and baking soda together in a small bowl. Set the bowl next to the burner you plan to use. Place the butter within reaching distance of the stove as well

Attach a clip-on candy thermometer to the side of a 2‑quart or larger slope-sided saucepan (trust me you don’t want a boil over). Make sure the tip touches neither the side nor the bottom of the pan. Pour in the honey, then strain in the rosemary-infused vinegar; discard the spent rosemary. Turn the heat to medium-high and boil the mixture about 3 minutes, stirring constantly with a high temperature silicone spatula to prevent burning. Add sugar and continue to stir constantly until sugar is completely dissolved. You’ll notice that the mixture will thicken and begin to boil. Keep stirring while also monitoring the heat. If the mixture boils too close to the top of the pan lower the heat just enough, but no more than necessary, to prevent a boil over. Keep stirring and monitoring until the temperature reaches the hard crack stage (300 degrees F.) Be patient and keep stirring, this could take as much as 20 minutes depending on the temperature of your burner. Do not leave the candy unattended.

Once the temperature is achieved, turn off heat and carefully stir in butter until blended. Add pine nut and baking soda mixture; stir until well mixed and no longer clumping. Pour onto the center of the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle sea salt and as much of the remaining 2 teaspoons minced rosemary as you like evenly across the surface of the hot candy

Allow to cool completely, then crack into various sized pieces.

This candy is at its best if eaten within a few days. Keep covered and refrigerated to keep the pieces from sticking together.