Sweet-Spicy Nuts

December 18, 2011

Aunt Suzy says . . .

I learned about this delicious holiday nut recipe from my upstairs neighbor, Krisztina, a few years ago.  I have made them a few times for gifts during the winter holiday season, and they are always a hit.  The bonus is that these nuts are easy and fast, so you can make a bunch of batches quickly.  You have lots of options – for example, I always use a variety of nuts; Krisztina tends to use only pecans.  The original recipe didn’t include any dried fruit, but Krisztina’s addition of dried cranberries really ups the tastiness.  The candied ginger is my addition, and this year I tried it with candied Meyer lemon peel, which I had received as a gift.  Yum!!

Yields 3 Cups

Preheat oven to 350°.  Generously oil a baking sheet.  (I place foil on the baking sheet before oiling)

¼ cup water

¼ cup sugar

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon ground black pepper

½ teaspoon ground cardamom

½-1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon cayenne (optional – although not in my book!)

3 cups shelled nuts ( I use a combination of raw pecan halves, raw almonds, raw walnut halves and roasted/unsalted cashews)

½ cup dried cranberries (optional)

¼ cup diced crystallized ginger, candied lemon or candied orange peel (optional)

In a saucepan on medium-high heat, stir together the sugar, water, salt, pepper, cardamom, cinnamon and cayenne and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and stir constantly for a minute, until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture has thickened.  Add the nuts and stir to coat.  Turn the coated nuts onto the prepared baking sheet and spread them out in a single layer.

Bake until browned, 10-15 minutes, stirring once after 5 or 6 minutes.   NOTE:  watch carefully!  I baked them for 12 minutes and they burned.  10 minutes was perfect for me, but your oven might be different.

Allow the nuts to cool, break apart any clumps and then mix in the cranberries and ginger.