holiday cookies
Photo: Johnny Miller

Makes 1 1/2 pounds


  • 1 tsp. vegetable oil, plus more for greasing
  • 1 1/3 cups (7 1/4 ounces) raw, hulled pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 3 cups (22 ounces) sugar


Active time: 20 minutes
Total time: 2 hours

Lightly grease an 18- x 12-inch jelly roll pan, the bottom of a second jelly roll pan, and a heatproof rubber spatula with oil. Arrange the first pan on trivets or a flat, heatproof surface.

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add pumpkin seeds and cook, stirring constantly, until toasted and fragrant, 4 to 5 minutes. (The seeds will crackle as they toast.) Transfer to a heatproof bowl; add cayenne, cinnamon, and salt and toss well. Set aside to let cool.

Place a heavy, medium saucepan (3-quart or larger) inside a medium cast-iron skillet. Add sugar and 1 1/2 cups water to saucepan and cook over high heat, gently stirring a few times with a wooden spoon, until syrup comes to a boil. Immediately cover pot with a tight-fitting lid and cook, without stirring or peeking, 3 minutes. Carefully uncover without dripping the lid's condensation into the pot. Reduce heat to medium-high and boil, without stirring, until mixture registers 350° on a candy thermometer and is light amber in color, about 30 minutes more.

Quickly remove saucepan from heat, stir in pumpkin seeds, and pour onto the first prepared jelly roll pan. Still working quickly, use prepared spatula to spread mixture evenly into a thin layer, tilting pan to spread candy out as much as possible. (Hold the pan with a towel or oven mitt, since it will heat up after the candy is poured onto it.) Top with second prepared pan and press to spread candy further. Let cool at room temperature 1 hour, and then give pan a tap on the counter to loosen candy. Using your hands, break brittle into pieces and store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place up to 2 weeks.

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