Sunday, December 14, 2008

Spicy Nuts

I am just nuts about pecans. When offered a selection of mixed nuts I go straight to the pecans. Add a little butter, sweet and savory spices, and you have an irresistible combination. The following recipe has a delicate balance of cinnamon and sugar with the pepper and spice.....neither one competes with the other. Just like the perfect relationship they're a little sweet and spicy, and a little nutty. These can be enjoyed with a glass of brandy, served with a cheese plate or plucked straight from the cupboard to satisfy a sweet, salty, crunchy craving. At holiday time they make welcome bundles to give away. I have also tossed them into a salad of mesclun greens, with dried cranberries and fresh oranges. Very refreshing.

Spicy Pecans

1 lb. pecan halves
4 tablespoons butter
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground gin
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoon dark brown sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
2 tablespoons water

Mix the cumin, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, ginger, and salt in a small bowl. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the pecans and stir to fully coat with the butter, stirring constantly. Add the spices, while constantly stirring to coat. Add the sugar, stirring until the sugar fully coats the nuts. Add the water while stirring. When the sugar is dissolved and starts to thicken, remove from heat and turn out onto a parchment lined sheet pan. After they are thoroughly cool, store in an airtight container.

For a strictly sweet pecan, these cinnamon sugared nuts are delightful with tea or coffee or as an addition to a cheese offering.

Cinnamon Sugared Pecans

4 cups pecan halves
2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1 cup water

Add pecans, sugar, cinnamon and water to a large skillet over medium heat. Stir constantly until thickened. Remove from heat and continue stirring until crisp. These must be stirred constantly and watched to make sure they do not burn or thicken too quickly. Turn out onto a parchment lined sheet pan and cool thoroughly. Store in an airtight container.

Written and photographed by Diane

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