Since forever some form of sugared and spiced nut seems to come out of hiding the first weekend of December, right in time for the first holiday gatherings. I've made a lot of them over time, and now heartily endorse the talented and adorable Dorie Greenspan's Candied Cocktail Nuts from her book Everyday Dorie as the very best option.
Candied cocktail nuts are the most pleasant way to start a party or celebration that I can think of. In under 15 minutes you'll have a big bowl of crispy flavored nuts that is perfect with most any libation. Season them sweet or savory.
Candied Cocktail Nuts also make perfect gifts for the holidays. Think of the neighbors, co-workers and hosts you can delight with such few ingredients and such a short time in the kitchen!
These spiced candied cocktail nuts make a perfect partner on a cheese or charcuterie platter. A handful of them also make a great salad topper. Don't forget that!
What Makes This Spiced Candied Cocktail Nut Special?
What I like about Dorie's candied cocktail nuts recipe is that the sugars are light (just one tablespoon maple syrup and one teaspoon brown sugar.) The sugars are cooked smooth into a glaze which evenly coats each nut. The glaze is meant only as a carrier delivery system to wrap each nutty nook and cranny with the spice flavor. The result is a just-right sweetness, not over the top sugaryness.
I've made room to change Dorie's cinnamon spice profile. Suit your mood or compliment the rest of your menu with whatever spices you have in your cupboard. I have found that curry blends (madras, ras el hanout, Persian lime curry) end up being my favorite spiced cocktail nuts. However, plain old cinnamon is pretty wonderful, too.
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Spiced Candied Cocktail Nuts
Season: Mist (November - March)
Dietary: Egg-Free, Gluten-Free, Vegan
Preparation: Baking, Fast + Easy
Total Time: 15minutes
Author: Adapted from Dorie Greenspan's Everyday Dorie!
The quickest, easiest, most pleasant way to start a party or celebration that I can think of. In under 15 minutes you'll have a big bowl of crispy flavored nuts that is perfect with most any libation. Season them sweet or savory. Perfect gifts for the holidays, too!
8ounces untoasted shelled nutsUse a single variety, or any combination of hazelnuts, almonds, walnuts, cashews, pecans, macadamias, and/or raw pumpkin seeds.
1 tablespoonunsalted butter
1teaspoonpacked brown sugar, light or dark
1teaspoonfleur de sel or flaky salt, or 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more for sprinkling
¾teaspooncinnamon, or curry powder, or pumpkin spice(play around-- French quatre espice, smoked paprika, cardamom, cumin blends all would be fantastic)
¼ to ½teaspooncayenne pepper or piment d'Espelette
Preheat the oven to 350°. Arrange the oven rack in the middle of the oven. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Add the nuts. Roast for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, place 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, 1 tablespoon maple syrup, 1 teaspoon packed brown sugar, 1 teaspoon fleur de sel or flaky salt (or 1/2 teaspoon fine salt), 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, and 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon piment d’Espelette or cayenne pepper in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until the butter melts and the mixture is smooth. You won’t have much liquid, but it will be all that you need.
Add the warm nuts to the saucepan and cook, stirring, until they are coated with the mix, 2 to 3 minutes. Return the nuts and thyme to the baking sheet and spread them out — they won’t bake well if they’re in clumps.
Bake for 5 minutes. Stir and turn the nuts and bake until fragrant and deepened in color, 4 to 5 minutes more. Place the baking sheet on a rack and discard the thyme. Sprinkle with more fleur de sel (or fine salt), and let the nuts cool completely (they will initially be sticky but will crisp up).
Tip: This recipe is so delicious and easy, you'll want to double it! If you decide to make a batch with more than 1 pound of nuts, bake them on two baking sheets.Storage: The nuts can be kept for at least 1 week in a tightly sealed container. They may get a bit sticky; to refresh them, pop them back into a 350ºF oven for 5 minutes.Sourcing nuts: You know me, I advise to use nuts that are grown in your area when you can. However Trader Joe's is a wonderful place to stock up on nuts. They are always fresh, have a great variety all in one place, and are always the best value around.
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