Medium aged Comté with spiced hazelnut, orange & fig brittle

Recipe by: Chef Laura Pope


  • 250g blanched hazelnuts
  • 120g seeds, such as sesame, pumpkin and sunflower (can use one type or a mixture)
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 100g golden syrup
  • 2 tablespoons double or whipping cream
  • 70g unsalted butter, cut into large cubes
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon Maldon sea salt
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • ½ teaspoon Chinese five spice powder
  • ½ teaspoon pul biber or ¼ teaspoon dried chilli flakes
  • 2 dried figs, stalks removed and chopped into small pieces
  1. Preheat your oven to 165 fan / 185 normal and lay your hazelnuts onto a baking tray, then cook for 10 minutes until nicely toasted*. Remove from the oven and leave to cool before chopping them into small pieces. Spread your seeds onto a baking tray and toast these for about 3 to 5 minutes, depending on their size (sesame seeds toast fast as they are small) - keep an eye on them to ensure they do not burn and give the tray a little shake during cooking to move the seeds around and toast them evenly. You can also toast the seeds in a dry frying pan over a medium-high heat if you prefer, shaking the pan regularly to ensure they toast evenly and do not burn.  
  2. Line a large baking tray (ideally, the one that slots into the rungs of your oven) with baking parchment or a reusable non-stick baking tray liner sheet - you want to make sure it covers all of the tray (overlap more than one piece if necessary), as the mixture will spread all the way out as it cooks. Turn your oven down to 145 fan / 165 normal. 
  3. In a medium saucepan, heat the sugar, syrup and cream over a medium heat until it starts to bubble, stirring occasionally; continue to cook until it is smooth and very lightly golden (about 5 minutes). Remove from the heat, add the butter, vanilla, Maldon salt, orange zest, Chinese five spice and pul biber (or dried chilli flakes) and keep stirring until the butter has melted. Thoroughly mix in the nuts and seeds and quickly transfer the mixture to your lined baking tray, using the back of a rubber spatula to spread it evenly in a thin layer (do not worry if you cannot spread it right out to the edges and corners - it will spread out as it cooks). 
  4. Bake for 10 minutes, then turn the tray around and bake for another 15 minutes. Sprinkle over the chopped figs, pushing them gently into the surface with the back of a spoon, and return to the oven for a final 2 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave for about 45 minutes to cool completely before breaking into pieces. 
  5. Will keep in an airtight container for up to 1 week. 

* You can use the pre-toasted and chopped hazelnuts, but I find that the flavour and texture is not as good as when you toast the whole hazelnuts yourself. If you cannot find blanched (skinned) hazelnuts, you can roast hazelnuts with their skin on for about 10 to 15 minutes, then put them in a clean tea towel and give them a good rub to get their skins off. Once cooled, they will then be ready to chop. 


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