Saturday, September 18, 2010
Candied nuts: You'll never want a salad without them again
uts, glorious nuts. In almost any form, I like the nuts: hazelnuts, walnuts, almonds, pecans, pine nuts... they add fabulous flavor and crunch to so very many different dishes.
It had been some time since I'd last made candied nuts... there was a time when I whipped these babies up in giant catering-style batches--eight, 10, 12 (OK, truthfully it was more like 20) cups of nuts at a time, that I would use for events--lunches, dinners, weddings, etc.
But a couple of weeks ago we were having dinner with friends and our hostess wanted to have candied nuts on the salad--she was working with just sugar as the sweetener and it wasn't melting adequately in the oven, at least not in the way that it does on the stovetop... which made me remember this recipe, where the corn syrup and sugar melt together in a happy marriage of sweet and sweet. That night, we added the syrup, popped the nuts back in the oven, and 15 minutes later had wonderful candied nuts for our salad!
This week a little shipment of figs found its way to our fair town, and the first thing I that crossed my mind was a salad of greens, figs, chevre, and of course, candied hazelnuts. I fired up the oven and in short order, the glorious smell of toasted nuts filled the house!
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon (generous) freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
1 1/2 cups pecan pieces (or hazelnut, or walnut, or...)
Preheat oven to 325°F. Spray baking sheet with nonstick spray. Combine corn syrup and next four ingredients in large bowl. Stir to blend. Add nuts; stir gently to coat. Transfer to baking sheet.
Place large piece of foil on work surface. Bake nuts 5 minutes. Using fork, stir nuts to coat with melted spice mixture. Continue baking until nuts are golden and coating bubbles, about 10 minutes. Transfer to foil. Working quickly, separate nuts with fork. Cool. (Can be made 3 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.)
And enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!