I started Sweetdragon Baking Company intending to make pies, but took a detour after the owners of a food truck asked if I could make peanut brittle for them to sell. I was not excited by the idea.  Most of us have tried (and been disappointed by) brittle that consists of a few measly peanuts tied together with a webbing of too hard, too sticky, too sweet, and uninteresting hard candy. But since they asked nicely, I decided to give it a try.

I had never made candy before, so I reviewed lots of recipes, candy-making texts, and YouTube videos.  I wanted to use a lot of nuts, because a high nut to sugar ratio is delicious.  I also thought brittle should be easy to bite and crisp, not sticky.

I read up on candy chemistry and made many failed batches. I consulted a Ph.D chemical engineer who told me that so many variables affect candymaking that the only way to determine whether something worked was to "try it and see."  After lots and lots of experiments (family and friends kindly ate the failures), I came up with some recipes that hit my flavor and texture goals.

I learned that excellent candy requires excellent ingredients, and I am always on the lookout for high quality.  Many ingredients are supplied by my neighbors at farmers' markets and other small specialty vendors.

I learned that packaging brittle to avoid exposure to moisture in the air is important to the texture. This is why we use recloseable bags and dessicant packs.

One of my first flavors was a black sesame brittle. This flavor was inspired by my grandmother, who didn't eat sweets except for a black sesame seed filled bun that she made herself. In 2013, the black sesame brittle won a Good Food Award. Thanks, Grandma!

Along with making brittle, I baked for Chromatic Coffee's cafe.  As their need for madeleines and cookies grew, I hired a baker who happened to be good at making pies. And then I met the good people of Prevedelli Farms and Andy's Orchard, who supply us with excellent local fruit. Giusto's in South San Francisco supplies us with organic flour and organic sugar. So now, with good ingredients and a talented crew, we make excellent pies daily.

Hope you like it all!  

Hway-ling Hsu