Wednesday, December 31, 2008

sugar-and-spice candied nuts

sweet and smoky-spicy nuts

I am, without a better way to put it, swimming in nuts.* Appalled by the price of nuts everywhere around here but insisting that it wasn’t going to keep me from baking with them, I asked my mother out in the ‘burbs — a place where people are less confident they can get away with swindling $9.99 for 1.25 cups of pecans — to see if she could do better. She came back with fifteen pounds for about $30 from Costco, five of walnuts, five of pecan and five of almonds. It is, in a word, awesome.

almonds and pecans
hot smoky paprika

And yet, despite the fact that many of my favorite recipes involve them in one way or another, I had not made even the slightest dent in the almonds and only a paltry one in the pecans as of last week, and they’re taking up a lot of space in the pantry and freezer. (I believe this is called The Costco Effect.) Obviously it was time to break out the big guns, a recipe sure to be so addictive, pounds would disappear (from the pantry, not our guts, that is) at a breakneck pace and the only thing left to do (besides sit-ups) would be to ask my mother to go back to Costco again.

sugar and spices

frothing the egg whites

These worked, and then some. The recipe is courtesy of Elizabeth Karmel of Hill Country a Texas-themed honky-tonk barbecue joint on 26th Street whose moist brisket is becoming something of a religion to us, and who shared it with New York Magazine in their roundup of favorite holiday food gifts from local chefs. I didn’t actually get to it in time for gifts, but it doesn’t mean a single person has complained (and then politely asked for more) when I’ve given them away since. Because I can’t have them around us anymore. They are dangerous.

tossing with egg white

ready to roast

I hope you all have wonderful New Years, merciful January 1sts and get everything you want, including that pony, in the 2009.

sweet and smoky-spicy nuts

* My goal is to see how many times I can get certain people to giggle before the end of this entry.

** I’ll try to get one of those nice little 2008 round-ups together tomorrow. A certain someone that I genuinely adore but still might throttle because he refuses to wear a hat (and often gloves and a scarf and omg I have turned into all of our mothers) brought home a stuffy head and cough to his wife who always wears a hat, gloves, a scarf and even a hood and it’s slowing me down a bit today not that I am rubbing it in or anything.

Sugar-and-Spice Candied Nuts
Adapted from Elizabeth Karmel of Hill Country

Karmel says: “A mason jar full of nuts and a pretty ceramic bowl is my favorite gift. If you bring these to a party, tell the host or hostess to hide them, or they will disappear.”

Deb says: These are so insanely easy to make — and from ingredients you probably already have on hand — they’re perfect to bring to any party. Like that one tonight.

1/3 cup dark-brown sugar
2/3 cup white granulated sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt (I might up this by a 1/2 tsp. next time for more of a sweet/salty balance)
Generous pinch of cayenne pepper (I swapped this with 1/4 teaspoon of hot smoked paprika)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 pound walnut or pecan halves or whole peeled hazelnuts
1 egg white, room temperature
1 tablespoon water

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Mix sugars, salt, cayenne, and cinnamon, making sure there are no lumps; set aside. Beat egg white and water until frothy but not stiff. Add walnuts, and stir to coat evenly. Sprinkle nuts with sugar mixture, and toss until evenly coated. Spread sugared nuts in a single layer on a cookie sheet fitted with parchment paper. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from oven, and separate nuts as they cool. When completely cool, pour the nuts into a bowl, breaking up any that stick together.


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