Candied nuts are your new party trick

When life hands you a bounty of Gulf Coast pecans and a bring-your-own-topping waffle brunch, your next move should be pretty clear: wake up early and trawl your cookbooks and the internet for candied nut recipes.  I had several methods for pralines bookmarked already but wanted something more disparate and topping-y, something less than a confection.

I was talking with someone at that brunch who was wondering whether it would be worth it to subscribe to a food magazine like Bon Appetit.  After we both groused about Gourmet‘s untimely demise I put in a plug for their cookbooks and for Epicurious, which collects the recipes of both publications as well as Food Network stars and others.  It’s my first stop when my cookbooks aren’t helping.  And it’s where I found the recipe for these nuts.

I chose this recipe because it was easy, quick, and didn’t involve things I didn’t have on hand like cream of tartar or five-spice powder.  These nuts were so tasty, we had to hide them on the drive over so there would be some left to share.  And the recipe was so simple that I could share it in about ten seconds when people asked.

And ask they did, because these little guys were tasty.  They’re crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, and the salt adds just the right amount of savory along with the sweet.  Plus they turned out to be great with pretty much any other waffle topping you can think of – maple syrup, cappuccino whipped cream, bananas and mangoes, maple tofu creme… can I rave about the things people showed up with?

Since I still have plenty of nuts I brought back from Alabama (where pecans grow on trees), I’m planning on trying other types of candied pecans including these once I find five-spice powder and these the next time I throw a party.  Those two are both vegan if you swing that way, although some substitution would be in order if you don’t do white sugar.  And while I was home, my mom made these spice-brined pecans which are fantastic if you like a more savory snack.  They’re habit-forming, I’m warning you.

I assume most of these recipes would work with walnuts if you can’t find or don’t like pecans.  And once our tiny hazelnut trees grow up and start producing, I’ll have to figure out what works well with those as well.  Unfortunately, you don’t get the same instant gratification with fruit and nut trees that you do with other plant projects… like sprouts.  Sprouts: a timeframe I can deal with.

Candied Pecans, from Bon Appetit December 2005

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