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Sunday, January 8, 2012

Sweet-and-spicy/smoky candied nuts

I had read about these candied nuts recently, and they sounded addictive.  Not that I need to make something that's addictive, but they were touted as a great gift, and I'm always looking for a good, lasts-a-while, homemade food gift.  Now, admittedly, I am not a huge fan of nuts.  I mean I love peanut butter (who doesn't?!), but eating nuts?  I can have a few, but then I'm done.  Surprising, then, that this is my second candied nut recipe in just over two weeks (last time I made these).

I had (most of) the ingredients here, including the bag of roasted and unsalted "fancy mixed nuts," which I had picked up specifically for this recipe.  I had a few changes to the recipe, both because I lacked the proper ingredients.  First of all, I had light brown sugar but no dark brown sugar.  I did, however, have molasses on hand, so I found a conversion and made my own dark brown sugar.  Secondly, the only paprika I had was smoked Spanish paprika -- I didn't have hot paprika or anything else I could substitute for it, so mine didn't end up being so sweet-and-spicy but were more sweet-and-smoky.  They were good but I'm planning on ordering some hot paprika tonight so that the next time I make these (I'm thinking for my not-yet-definitive-but-most-probable Superbowl party) they have a little kick. 

Of note, I baked mine for 30 minutes as the recipe indicated, but some of the nuts were a bit overcooked, despite the fact that I stirred them often.  Maybe it was because I used mixed nuts, so they were all different sizes.

Sugar-and-Spice Candied Nuts
(from one of my favorite food blogs ever, Smitten Kitchen)

1/3 cup dark-brown sugar
2/3 cup white granulated sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt (the blog suggested upping it by a 1/2 tsp, I used about 1 and 1/4 tsp)
Generous pinch of cayenne pepper or hot smoked paprika (I used smoked Spanish paprika this time - I recommend using something with heat when you make it)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 pound walnut or pecan halves or whole peeled hazelnuts (I used a pound of mixed nuts)
1 egg white, room temperature
1 tablespoon water

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Mix sugars, salt, cayenne/paprika, and cinnamon.  Make sure it is not lumpy and set aside.

Beat egg white and water until frothy but not stiff.

Add nuts, and stir to coat evenly.

Sprinkle with the sugar mixture, and toss until evenly coated.

Spread sugared nuts in a single layer on a cookie sheet fitted with parchment paper (I used foil -- it worked just as well). Bake for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove from oven, and separate nuts as they cool. When completely cool, pour the nuts into an airtight container, breaking up any that stick together.

*note: mine don't look like they do on Smitten Kitchen since I absentmindedly left out the white sugar when I made the mixture -- in copying it from the computer onto a piece of paper to bring into the kitchen, I appear to have glossed over that ingredient and didn't copy it down -- but I did sprinkle some white sugar over the warm, still tacky coated nuts, and it seemed to stick.*

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