Spicy Chipotle Pecan Brittle (Low Carb)


I’ve been a busy little bee this past week, but it’s not been in the kitchen as much as I would like. My son started kindergarten and we’re all adjusting to the new schedule of pick-ups and drop-offs. I have to say, this less than three hours a day of school puts a bit of a crimp in my two favourite hobbies of baking and running. I barely had time to crank out an eleven mile training run yesterday before rushing to pick him up, all sweaty and stinky. I am sure the other mothers were horrified at my appearance, but I tried to stand downwind of them so they didn’t have to suffer the indignity of my smell!

I did manage to make a couple of things that I want to share with you, and I am incredibly exicted about this one. So excited I can hardly contain myself. One might say ridiculously excited. And very, very proud of this little creation. Going by the title, it might not sound like much, because hey, who can’t make brittle or toffee? It’s easy, as long as you have a candy thermometer. One might say ridiculously easy. So why am I so excited?

It’s not the chipotle part, although I do think that bit is rather inspired (thanks to a recipe from Cooking Light). What I am really excited about is that this brittle is made entirely with erythritol. There is not an ounce of sugar in this thing! After my discovery with the pecan streusel bread that erythritol sort of carmelizes when mixed with butter over heat, I decided to experiment. If I exposed it to heat a little longer and got it to boil, could I get it to fully carmelize? Would it harden properly into toffee, like sugar does? Or would I blow up my kitchen trying?


The Results: I think you can see from the pictures that it did indeed carmelize and harden into toffee. And for the record, my kitchen was not blown to smithereens (phew!). The brittle is delicious, and the heat and flavour from the chipotle is an unexpected twist. It’s not exactly like conventional toffee made with sugar, as the texture is a little grittier and it doesn’t get as hard and sharp. Also, there is a mouth-cooling sensation with erythritol that I hadn’t yet experienced as it’s usually lost among the other ingredients in my baked goods. Since this is pretty much just erythritol and butter, you definitely do get a bit of this cooling sensation. It’s not unpleasant and actually plays off the heat of the chipotle quite well.

With this discovery, I feel like the possibilities are endless. I already have some ideas of how to use this in other recipes (low carb toffee brownies, anyone?). If you’re not up for the spicy version of this toffee, just eliminate the chipotle powder and add in a bit of vanilla after taking the toffee off the heat. Or maple extract, now that would be delicious! If you want traditional English toffee, sprinkle it with chopped chocolate (high % cacao for lower carbs) after you’ve spread it in the pan, let the chocolate melt, and then spread over with a spatula.

One final word of advice…don’t eat too much of this on one go! Word on the street is that too much of any sugar alcohol can cause some tummy troubles. Erythritol is supposed to be easier on the tummy than other sugar alcohols, and I’ve never had a problem with it, but until you know how it effects you, you may want to go easy on it.

Spicy Chipotle Pecan Brittle

1/2 cup butter (1 stick), cut into 8 pieces
1/2 cup granulated erythritol
1 cup chopped pecans, lightly toasted
1/2 tsp chipotle powder

Line an 8×8 inch pan with parchment paper and grease paper or spray with cooking oil.

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Once the butter is fully melted, add erythritol and turn heat to medium. Stir constantly until erythritol has dissolved and the mixture boils.

Stirring continuously, gently boil mixture for 10-15 minutes until it begins to darken and carmelize. If you are using a candy thermometer, it will register a bit above 300F when it’s finished. I found that the temperature rose faster than with traditional toffee, so watch it carefully. You may have to keep turning the heat up and down so it doesn’t cook too quickly.

Off heat, stir in pecans and chipotle powder (or vanilla extract). Pour mixture into prepared pan and let cool. You can place it in the fridge to cool faster if you wish, but once it’s hardened, it does not need to be refrigerated.

With your hands, break candy into chunks of whatever size you wish.

Makes 20 small 1-inch pieces. 5.6g total carbs per serving. Less than 1g per serving if you subtract erythritol.

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  1. Jelly Shot Test Kitchen says

    I am excited too! I love chile in chocolate, and can only imagine that chipotle brittle will be spectacular. (P.S. am keeping your important safety tip regarding consumption in mind!!!) Cheers, Michelle

  2. Jean says

    Carolyn, if you're running 11 miles, you deserve to eat anything you want! Wow!

    Loved the details in this post, such as the warning about the possible consequences of eating too much of the alcohol sugars.

  3. Sugar Free Low Carb says

    I've also wondered if I could carmelize erythritol like regular sugar. I've noticed it acts like sugar in many of the things I've made. I was thinking of using it to make flan with the traditional caramel topping.

  4. The Mom Chef says

    I would love this. I'm not a chocolate fan, but the thought of chipotle in brittle makes me happy. I think any mother that saw you in work-out clothes looking like you'd obviously been working out, would be self-conscious about the fact that they'd been doing just about anything else (I know I would be). Kudos to you on 11-mile runs!

  5. Amy Kim says

    this sounds really good! i wish i followed food blogs like yours a few years ago when i was pregnant with my son and i had gestational diabetes. talk about a food rut!

    bravo on the training run! what are you training for, may i ask? i assume a marathon….

    Amy K.


    We are in the same boat–my little guy started kindergarten this year too! I often pick the kids up sweaty, but figure, better sweaty than NO WORKOUT! Those two hobbies work well together, don't they.;)

    The spicy brittle sounds amazing. I'll have to try it out before our big Halloween party!

  7. Stella says

    Explosive! But only in the sense of great information (smile), not your kitchen. I was just wondering the other day if Xylitol would caramelize. I don't know if it would, but that is a great tidbit of info on the Erythritol, Carolyn!
    Oh, and this toffee looks perfect;)

  8. Anonymous says

    I know that this is an extremely old post, but I tried this today and for some reason my butter/erythritol mixture never boiled. As it began to get too dark (or as dark as it is supposed to get rather) I went ahead and pulled it off the heat. As a result the erythritol and butter didn't really harden. It barely holds itself together and is essentially granular erythritol held together with butter it isn't hard at all (or anything like toffee for that matter). I wasn't expecting the exact same as toffee (I've been living a low carb life for too long to be that naive). I feel like I did something wrong (to prevent it from boiling) but I followed the directions to a t. If you still check these any tips would be appreciated as I want to try again.

  9. Carolyn says

    Hi Anonymous. You really need to wait for it to boil, even if it gets quite dark. What kind of pan do you have? Anodized, non-stick is the best for doing this.

  10. Carolyn says

    also could be the kind of erythritol you are using…what brand? I suggest ZSweet for this (has some stevia in it, but is mostly erythritol).

  11. johanna says

    Have you ever tried polydextrose? mixed with erythritol for this type of application you can reduce the cooling effect immensely!

  12. Jennifer says

    I’m gonna be ‘that guy’ and comment on a 4 year old blog post… sorry!

    But I just made this last week! I cooked the mixture to 300F (check with a candy thermometer, it’s really important to hit 300 in order to make sure the mixture will harden later on). Everything in the recipe was spot on and worked perfectly. And then… I tasted them.

    Well, maybe it’s my erythritol, or maybe i’m just sensitive, but Holy Cow Cooling Sensation. I don’t care for the cooling sensation that much. I intend to try this recipe again with a few variations:

    1. Going to try using a mixture of say, 1/3 erythritol, 1/3 xylitol, and 1/3 splenda to see if I can reduce the cooling effect. In my experience you usually get tastier results by combining artificial sweeteners anyway. I’m not sure, however, if I will get the same effects using xylitol and splenda… I guess I’m gonna find out!

    2. Once I get a mix of sweeteners I like, i want to try adding 1/2 tsp baking soda to the mixture when you take it off the heat. That’s traditionally done in sugary peanut brittles to add lightness and air bubbles, and I think it would be a nice addition.

    Carolyn, love your site. If you can comment about #1 & 2 above (for example, have you tried multiple sweeteners, did you try the baking soda?) I would certainly appreciate your wisdom.
    Thanks for a great recipe!

    • Carolyn says

      Hi Jennifer. Totally okay to comment on an old post! This recipe was written long ago, before I discovered Swerve, so yes, there is a HUGE cooling sensation from straight erythritol. And I do find that combining sweeteners can lessen any after affects. But I am doubtful splenda would work in this, and I am a little leary of xylitol…in my experience, it holds moisture better than erythritol so might not harden up properly. I never tried baking soda in this, I know it’s typical in brittles but I tried it once in a regular caramel sauce and didn’t like the taste.

      • Jennifer says

        Carolyn, Thanks so much for responding. I may have to bite the bullet and buy some Swerve – I just hesitate to add yet another special ingredient my pantry. But if it gets rid of the cooling sensation it would be worth it. Thanks for the tip on the xylitol, I haven’t cooked too much with it yet so I didn’t know it held moisture better.

  13. Maria says

    I just tried this tonight and it was a huge fail :( I come from a candy making family, my grandfather and dad were old time candy makers, so I have been making candy for many years. Since I have been off sugar that’s the one thing I miss. Anyway I tried this tonight using a combination of Swerve and Xylitol. Using my candy thermometer I took it to hard crack, added some baking soda and the nuts and waited for it to cool. It got thick but never hard. It is more like a caramel than a brittle. I don’t know if this is because of the Xylitol or the Swerve but something didn’t work. I will say that is does taste really good so I will keep experimenting to see if I can get this to harden up.

    • Carolyn says

      It’s the xylitol. It doesn’t harden the way erythritol does. It’s actually what I use to keep caramel soft sometimes! If you used all Swerve or erythritol, it would harden like brittle.

  14. Ana says

    I made this tonight and it was Perfect!! I used all Swerve- brought it to 300′ added vanilla and it was perfect! Just wanted everyone to know-And the taste was spot on!! Tripling the recipe as I type!!

  15. whoowhoo says

    Oh dear!
    It wasn’t coming to the boil so I put the pan on a higher intensity ring, the mix started to smoke but never seemed to boil. The mix turned a dark brown and admittedly smelt quite burnt – so removed it from the heat. I used Natur Total Erythrit. Had to smile when I added the vanilla essence and it started to bubble (Toil & trouble). Might need to by swerve, or at least look at something else, will wait for mixture to cool and see how bad it is. Added pan toasted brazils.

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