Caramelized spiced nuts: Recipe for awesome in a bowl
With autumn in full effect, complete with rain and flooded roads and freezing toes, I’m once again drawn to doing kitchen things. I half think it’s because it’s a warmer room than the living room. Plus, it’s a chance to make awesome things like spiced nuts that just don’t really fit in when it’s hot out.
I always go sifting through recipe sites and the massive cookbook collection that is a huge pain every time we move. I never find what I actually want. I don’t want nuts without balls. I want that sweet-salty taste of honey roasted, but with the spices that make spiced nuts interesting. I inevitably go into the kitchen and throw things about in a more or less organized way.
I paid attention to what I was chucking about last night, though (roughly)…
Super Awesome Caramel Spiced Nuts
(All measurements approximate, since I tend not to measure. Use the spices as you see fit. Almost any can be left out or reduced if you don’t have them/don’t want them.)
1 egg white
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups (approx.) unsalted mixed nuts (any mix works, but I used a standard pre-mixed thing of brazils, hazelnuts, walnuts and almonds with the addition of a bag of cashews because I really like cashews)
1/3 cup white sugar
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1.5 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/8 tsp. ground mace
1/8 tsp. ground cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
Oven at 300F/180ishC (My brain still functions in F, and my oven malfunctions in C)
Whisk the egg white until it’s frothy, add the vanilla, and then toss the nuts in there and get them all coated and slimy looking.
In a separate bowl, combine everything else, mixing well to get the brown sugar un-clumped and the spices all mixed together.
A few at a time, take the slimy nuts and toss them around in the sugar and spices, then put them in a single layer on a baking sheet. I lined the tray with baking parchment, just because it’s easier than getting caramel off a baking tray.
I always end up with a glob of sugary spicy remnants that I put in a bit of foil separate from the rest. It’s a special treat, and nice out of the oven with a bit of ice cream or just licked off the foil, like a dirty caramel spiced nut junkie.
They go in the oven for 20 minutes, no longer. I always second guess this, and it’s always wrong to second guess it. They only need 20 minutes, and more than that can go from nice to scorched before you realize it.
Straight from the oven, get the nuts off the pan and onto a wire rack. (An added bonus of the parchment is that you can just whip the whole thing off and not need to stand there with a hot pan.)
Allow them to cool, at least most of the way, before eating. They should have a balance of spice and sweet and salty, with a nice gooey texture covered with a crystallized sugar that keeps it from being glued to your fingers.
Once fully cooled, they can be put in airtight containers, but are best within a day or so. They start sticking together, but not in an altogether bad way.