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Spiced candied nuts.

When I worked as a pastry chef at a restaurant in Maine we used to make a version of these nuts for garnish on a pear salad. The difficult thing was keeping our paws off them the rest of the time--these are addictive in all the best ways: sweet, savory, with a satisfying crunch between your teeth. The simplest version uses only salt and pepper for seasoning, and the nuts are delicious that way. Personally, I prefer the bite of a little cayenne and the complexity the curry adds to the flavor.

This is one of those recipes I've never had a solid recipe for. Fortunately, it's almost impossible to screw up. What follows is a rough guide.

Spiced candied nuts

1. You can use mixed nuts or just one kind--doesn't matter, but I like a mix of almonds, cashews, pecans, and walnuts. In any case they should be raw (not toasted).

2. Make a simple syrup with equal parts water and sugar. (Boil until the sugar dissolves, then turn off heat and cool). You can also use maple syrup instead of simple syrup. I've tried this a couple of times and I think I like the added flavor evenbetter. In a bowl, add enough syrup to the nuts to coat them. You don't want them swimming in it, just enough to cover them evenly and make them all look glossy and wet.

3. Add salt and pepper, a few dashes of curry powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cayenne or any/all of the above.

4. Spread the nuts evenly on a lined cookie sheet (foil or parchment works) and put in a 350 degree oven. After five or ten minutes stir the nuts with a spoon/spatula and spread them out again. Ideally there's enough room on the tray that they're not super clumped together.

5. When you can start to smell the nuts cooking, it means they're done. Take them out of the oven and immediately transfer them from the foil or parchment to another cookie sheet (lined or not). While the nuts are still hot, sprinkle with granulated sugar and a little more salt and toss to coat.

Allow to cool, separating the nuts from each other with your fingers once they're not too hot to handle. If they cool stuck together, they're stayin' that way.


Aside from eating these straight as a snack, try them in salads or chopped up and sprinkled on cooked winter squash or sweet potatoes.