Bruschetta

I’m not going to give complete recipes here, but rather ideas for what to put on toasted or grilled bread. Traditionally, bruschetta is bread that has been grilled over a fire, rubbed with garlic cloves, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil, and sprinkled with kosher salt. If you don’t have a fire, feel free to do the same in the toaster or oven or grill. When laziness overcomes me, I omit the garlic or use garlic oil instead of olive. It is great served alone or with any of the following toppings.

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Not Your Mother’s Peanut Brittle

I initially made toffee and brittle as a vehicle for using broken bits of pecans that I felt were too small to bag and sell. Although these two recipes are great using the nuts I have specified, they are really special – in fact sublime – when made with nuts that have already been flavored. Any of these Party Nuts! Recipes are great in brittle and toffee; the spicy ones are my favorites.

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Your Basic Nut Toffee

A candy thermometer is a must! There is no recipe in tis book that caused as much frustration and as much revision as this one: I don’t even want to describe how sizeable and how icky my failures were. In fact, until I found this recipe, a slight variation of Helen Witty’s (from The Good Stuff Cookbook), I had despaired of including a recipe for toffee. And yet… really good toffee is so good that I persisted.

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Lauren’s Vanilla Walnuts

The first time that I tested these walnuts, I made a half batch, which my family pretty much devoured. My daughter, Lauren, had earlier begged me to make chocolate chip cookies for her school’s Valentine’s Day party, but after demolishing these she switched her order to a full batch of nuts. I have no doubt that it was a first for fourth graders.

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Hot-Sweet Black and White Sesame Almonds

My friend Lizzy Shaw, who lives in California and comes to visit once a year, made these last New Year’s Eve. When she came back this year, she perfected them. Neither she nor my husband, Mark, could stop eating them.
Although I have used blanched almonds in many of these recipes, I prefer to eat them with the skins on. Some people (not me) consider the skins bitter. If you are one of these people and you like your almonds blanched, simply drop skin-on almonds into a bowl of boiling hot water and let them sit for 2 to 3 minutes. Drain and rub off the skins with your hands. Or you can simply buy them already blanched at the supermarket.

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Honey-Cardamom Almonds

Warm and sweet, cardamom is a member of the ginger family. It is most often tasted in Scandinavian, Middle Eastern, and Indian dishes and smelled in perfumes. Although it is somewhat stronger in seed form, I’m a big fan of it ground. Its flavor is definitely prevalent and yet not overpowering in these slightly sticky, slightly peppery, slightly sweet almonds. In fact, it’s almost impossible to tell what the spices are. I suggest you leave your guests guessing. Serve these alongside sliced oranges.

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Rachel Travers’s Cinnamon Spiced Pecans

Rachel is a local food writer who writes frequently for the Boston Globe, and both she and her mother, Bernice, have been invaluable sources for countless extraordinary recipes. This combination is, Rachel says, “more complex than you can imagine sugar, salt, and cinnamon can be,” and she swears that it’s always the most popular item on a buffet table. I t can be easily tripled, but if you triple it, only double the egg and water. She also makes this using walnuts.

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Jenny’s Friend Leo’s Grandmother’s Pumpkin Pecans

This is my favorite recipe: one that gets handed down and handed down and, most important, tastes great and works no matter how many adjustments you make to it. When I told Jenny Alperen that I was spending all my time making spiced pecans, she said she had just tasted some that reminded her of pumpkin pie. And then she did the research. Billie Forer, from Pelham, Georgia, gave this recipe to her grandson, Leo Mascotte, who makes them every year for his big Christmas party. I ended up doubling the spices for an even richer flavor.

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Sugared Bourbon Pecans

I really wasn’t too keen on trying a recipe that is essentially boiled nuts in sugar, and yet I found myself unable to resist eating these once they had cooled. My husband, Mark, compares their taste and texture to that of glazed doughnuts, so if you’re the type who can’t stop at the first doughnut, beware.

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Curried Chili Cashews

Found in the rainforests, cashews grow at the end of the pear-shaped, astringent-tasting cashew apple. Cashew apples, which are not imported to the United States, are usually left on the tree to rot but are sometimes used for wine, vinegar, juice, and preserves. An entire, which can grow up to 40 or 50 feet tall, only produces 10 pounds of nuts per year.

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Salt and Chipotle Chile Almonds

Chipotle chiles are dried, smoked jalapeno peppers. Their rich, sweet-smoky, almost chocolate flavor makes them a welcome additions to almost anything in my house. In fact, there are few foods that my husband doesn’t think they improve. Although they are increasingly available in adobo sauce (a dark red chile and vinegar sauce) at grocery stores with good ethnic sections, I have found the ground or crushed form only through Penzeys Spices at www.penzeys.com or (800) 741-7787.

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Hot Pepper Sesame Peanuts

Dark and nutty, toasted sesame oil is pressed from, well, you guessed it: toasted sesame seeds. It is most commonly used in Asian cooking, and once you use it in your cooking, it is hard to go back to the lighter, less fragrant, run-of-the-mill sesame oil. It does need to be used sparingly, as it has the potential to overpower almost any dish.

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BBQ Pecans

All I can say is, finger-licking good. They remind my friend Susan Benett of Buffalo wings, so whenever I bring them to her house, I always pick up a big chunk of hearty blue cheese. These pecans are not for formal dinners; they’re for feet-up-on-the-coffee-table aftenoons – just add a football game and a beer, or in Susan’s case, an episode of Iron Chef.

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Pecans au Poivre

For pepper lovers only, these nuts can definitely cause an addiction. The technique of cooking then first in a melted mixture of salt, sugar, and pepper creates a hard coating. This coating is then covered in the same mixture, but not cooked again, which results in a pecan with a sort of attractive, but weird gray dusting. Don’t grind the pepper too fine – keep it coarse.

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Garlic Almonds and Hazelnuts

California is the only state that produces almonds commercially. Seventy percent of the world’s supply is grown by 6,000 farmers on almost half a million acres. Almonds are not actually nuts, botanically speaking, but are the seeds of stone fruits, like the pit of a peach. They are rich in protein, calcium, and riboflavin. Only a small portion of the fat in almonds is saturated, and the almond’s fat content is among the lowest of the nuts.

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Indian Almonds with Coconut

The babysitter arrives, we choose a late movie, and then begin the night at one of our favorite East India restaurants in Waltham, Massachusetts. The meals are exotic, the spices aromatic, and the rice pudding – suffused with rose water and cardamom – is sprinkled with a version of these spicy almonds. It’s a heady and rich combination that stays with me even after the babysitter goes home.

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Pesto Pine Nuts

Very expensive and delicately flavored, pine nuts are also called pignoli and pinons. They are harvested from pine nuts and can be found inside the pine cone, a fact that I came to realize only after betting that they didn’t. Most of the pine nuts Americans use are the thin, subtler Italian variety, but a stronger variety is available in Asian markets.

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Saffron Pistachios

Very subtle, with an almost delicate saffron flavor that improves over time, these nuts really need to cool completely before serving.
If you haven’t had a good pistachio lately, it’s probably because you’re eating those grown in California. Although they’re easier to open and comparatively large, their flavor isn’t as good as the smaller, more flavorful Turkish pistachios.

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Pistachios with Anise

It’s no surprise that I have become obsessed with nuts. When our family recently went out for ice cream at Toscanini’s Ice Cream, in Cambridge, I spied a new and unfamiliar flavor: pistachio anise. I tasted it (though I had a scoop of burnt sugar ice cream instead) and immediately ran home to try this combination on nuts.

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Shellacked Balsamic Pecans

I had six friends over for a nut fest and swore that no one would be able to guess the flavorings of this unusual pecan, and yet my friend Toni Bowerman did just that. In fact, in a group of about 12 contenders, these were her hands-down favorite. In spite of all the sugar, these are not very sweet; rather the balsamic vinegar gives them an appealing sourness.

2 cups lightly toasted pecan halves
½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
⅓ cup balsamic vinegar
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon chili powder or cayenne pepper (optional)

Makes 2 cups.

1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Place the pecans, brown sugar, and vinegar in a large heavy-bottomed skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring, until the sugar melts, the pecans are well coated with the mixture, and there is no liquid at the bottom, 3 to 5 minutes. Sprinkle evenly with the salt and chili powder, if using.

3. Transfer the pecans to the prepared sheet, separating the individual nuts. Set aside and to cool before serving.

If you’re sipping: A red wine like Merlot, Cabernet, or Port pairs well.
Not just for snacking: Swirl them into vanilla ice cream and/or with strawberries drizzled with additional balsamic vinegar.

From Party Nuts! 50 Recipes for Spicy, Sweet, Savory, and Simply Sensational Nuts That Will Be the Hit of Any Gathering (The Harvard Common Press, 2002)

Olive Oil and Wine Cookies

These are definitely among the strangest cookies in this book but I find them irresistible: hard and almost cracker-like, the flavors of the olive oil and the wine are understated although you can identify them if you pay close attention. Great with cheese and red wine either as an hors d’oeuvre or after dinner. I like to flatten them but it’s not necessary.

This is not a dough to let sit: make the dough and then bake the cookies right away.

Olive Oil and Wine Cookies
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Serves: 32 cookies
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup dry red wine
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a silpat/exopat.
  3. Place the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and pepper in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle and mix until everything is incorporated.
  4. Gradually, while the paddle is moving, add the olive oil and wine.
  5. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix again.
  6. Drop the dough by tablespoons about 2 inches apart on the prepared cookie sheet. The dough tends to separate so bake these right away. If you like flatter cookies, using your hand or the bottom of a water glass, press down until flattened.
  7. Transfer the cookie sheet to the oven and bake until the cookies are lightly browned, about 12- 15 minutes.
  8. Cool on the cookie sheet and repeat with remaining dough.

 

Savory Cheese Cookies

Ellen Sturgis grew up making these savory “cookies” and continues to make them with her daughter Rozzie every Christmas. Come December, there is always a full tin in her kitchen; when she runs out, she just whips up another batch to bring to friends for the holidays. They last forever (well, a month) if they don’t get eaten immediately. But honestly, it’s hard to eat just one.

Savory Cheese Cookies
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Ingredients
  • 1 cup (1/2 pound/2 sticks) butter at room temperature
  • ½ pound sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 2 ½ - 3 cups all purpose flour
Instructions
  1. Place the butter in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle and mix until smooth and creamy.
  2. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the cheese and mix until everything is well incorporated.
  3. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, gradually add the flour and mix again until the dough looks dry. The dough shouldn't feel sticky.
  4. Roll into cotton size balls, place on an ungreased cookie sheet and press the balls down with the tines of a fork.
  5. Transfer the cookie sheet to the oven and bake until the bottoms begin to brown, about 15-20 minutes.
  6. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Repeat with remaining dough.

 

Coconut Curried Nuts

Inspired by a recipe in the cookbook, Savor the Moment by the Junior League of Boca Raton, Florida, this combination is hard to resist: spicy, sweet and crunchy. You can also make it with any of the nuts alone, rather than in combination.

Coconut Curried Nuts
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Serves: 4 cups
 
Ingredients
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 4 cups mixed nuts (including pecans, cashews, almonds, peanuts and walnuts)
  • ½ cup shredded coconut, sweetened or unsweetened
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon white pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 225 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Place the egg whites in a large stainless steel bowl and whip until frothy.
  3. Add the nuts and toss until coated.
  4. Place the remaining ingredients in another bowl, toss to combine and add to the nuts. Toss again. Transfer to the prepared sheet and arrange in a single layer.
  5. Place in the oven and cook, stirring every 15 minutes, until lightly colored and dried out, about 1 hour.
  6. Immediately loosen the nuts with a spatula and set aside to cool.

 

Stan Frankenthaler’s Mother’s Sugar and Spice Walnuts

Stan’s mother was crazy for football. Although she was serious about the professional games on Sunday, she was not a true couch potato; in fact, she spent as much time cooking and greeting guests as watching the game. In addition to these sweet and savory nuts, she made little snacks throughout the day, including deviled eggs and quiche.

Stan Frankenthaler’s Mother's Sugar and Spice Walnuts
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Serves: 2 cups
 
Ingredients
  • 1 large egg white (2 tablespoons)
  • 2 cups walnut halves (or pecans, or a combination)
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Place the egg white in a stainless steel bowl and whip until it forms soft peaks.
  3. Add the walnuts and toss until coated.
  4. Add the sugar, salt and spices and toss to coat.
  5. Transfer the nuts to the prepared sheet and arrange in a single layer.
  6. Place in the oven and bake, stirring every 10 minutes, until browned, about 30- 40 minutes.
  7. Set aside to cool.

 

Soy Glazed Walnuts

Unlike the ubiquitous tamari almond, these are glazed, not dusted, and have a great brittle-like, salty crunch.

Soy Glazed Walnuts
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Serves: 2 cups
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups raw walnuts
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon melted unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Place all the ingredients in a large bowl and toss until the nuts are well coated.
  3. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet and arrange in a single layer. Place in the oven and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 30 – 35 minutes.
  4. Immediately loosen the nuts with a spatula and set aside to cool.

 

Paige’s Hot Peppered Candied Walnuts

Hot and sweet, these make a great cocktail snack. Nibble with a dry martini and slip in a James Bond movie for an elegant, fun night.

Paige’s Hot Peppered Candied Walnuts
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Serves: 2 cup
 
Ingredients
  • ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 cups walnuts
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Place ¾ cup sugar in a small skillet and cook over high heat until it turns a light caramel color, about 4- 5 minutes. Add the butter and stir to combine. Add the nuts and stir to coat.
  3. Transfer the nuts to the prepared sheet and arrange in a single layer. Place in the oven and bake, tossing every 5 minutes, until the nuts are toasted, about 15 minutes.
  4. Pour the nuts into a mixing bowl, add the salt and spices and the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and very quickly toss the nuts (like flipping pancakes) again and again to coat them evenly. Immediately spread onto a piece of parchment and separate with a fork to cool. Allow to cool completely.

 

Rosemary Walnuts

A savory cocktail nut, you can make these with almost any kind of nut: cashews, pecans, and peanuts are good choices, and almost any herb: oregano, thyme and tarragon work well.

Look for walnuts that are pale in color. Although rich and flavorful, walnuts are bitter to some people: If you feel this way, simply rub them with a towel when they come out of the oven- before you add any other ingredients.

Rosemary Walnuts
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Serves: 2 cups
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups just toasted walnuts halves
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable or walnut oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh or 2 teaspoons dried rosemary leaves
  • ½ teaspoon ground sage
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Place all the ingredients in a large bowl and toss until the nuts are well coated.
  3. Transfer to the prepared sheet and arrange in a single layer.
  4. Place in the oven and bake, stirring every 10 minutes, until the nuts are fragrant and deeply colored, about 20- 30 minutes.
  5. Immediately loosen the nuts with a spatula and set aside to cool.

 

Lauren’s Vanilla Walnuts

The first time that I tested these walnuts I made a half batch, which my family pretty much devoured. My daughter, Lauren, had earlier begged me to make chocolate chip cookies for her school’s Valentines Day Party, but after demolishing these, switched her order to a full batch. I have no doubt that it was a first for the fourth graders.

I was so excited when I saw Vanilla Powder, not even knowing what I would do with it. If you can’t find it, simply substitute an equal amount of vanilla extract.

Lauren’s Vanilla Walnuts
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Serves: 4 cups
 
Ingredients
  • 4 cup walnuts
  • 2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon ground vanilla powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Place the walnuts and butter in a bowl and toss until the nuts are well coated.
  3. Add the sugar and vanilla and toss again.
  4. Transfer to the prepared pan and arrange in a single layer. Set aside for 10 minutes.
  5. Place the vanilla powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and pepper in a small bowl and set aside.
  6. Transfer the sheet to the oven and bake until the nuts are lightly browned, about 30 minutes.
  7. While hot, sprinkle the nuts with the spice mix and stir well but gently. Set aside to cool.

 

Paige’s Cinnamon and Clove Spiced Hazelnuts

Hazelnuts, also called filberts or less frequently, cobnuts, have a crunchy texture. Paige uses these as snacks and dessert garnishes but I think these sweet and peppery nuts are great to make before prospective buyers come to inspect your house. The aroma will sell even the most run-down shack. Serve with mulled cider or tea.

Named after the Latin word for nail, clavus, cloves look like little nails (as in hammer not fingers) and although bitter raw, taste warm and slightly sweet when cooked.

In most kitchens, cloves sit for years and years, losing flavor, waiting to be inserted into a baked ham, their most common ally.

Paige’s Cinnamon and Clove Spiced Hazelnuts
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Serves: 3 cups
 
Ingredients
  • 1 ½ tablespoons sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • pinch ground clove
  • pinch kosher salt
  • 1 large egg white (2 tablespoons)
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups whole hazelnuts, very coarsely chopped
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Place the sugar, cinnamon, clove and salt in a bowl and stir well.
  3. Add the egg white and vanilla extract and gently whisk to combine.
  4. Add the nuts and coat thoroughly.
  5. Transfer to the prepared pan and arrange in a single layer.
  6. Place in the oven and bake, tossing every 5 minutes, for 15 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Curried Chili Cashews

Tropical nuts that grow in damp, hot rainforests, cashews grow at the end of the pear shaped, astringent tasting cashew apple, sort of like a nub at the end. Cashew apples, which are not imported to the US, are usually left on the tree to rot but are sometimes used for wine, vinegar, juice and preserves. An entire tree, which can grow up to 40 or 50 feet tall, only produces 10 pounds per year.

Be patient with these nuts: they are unimpressive just after they get out of the oven: it takes cooling down and sitting at least overnight for the flavors to come through.

Curried Chili Cashews
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Serves: 4 cups
 
Ingredients
  • 1 large egg white (2 tablespoons)
  • 1 teaspoon orange juice concentrate
  • 4 cups raw cashews
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 ½ teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Place the egg white in a stainless steel bowl and whip until it forms soft peaks.
  3. Add the orange juice and whip again.
  4. Add the cashews and toss until coated.
  5. Add the sugar, spices and salt and toss until well coated.
  6. Transfer the nuts to the prepared sheet and arrange in a single layer. Place in the oven and bake, stirring every 10 minutes, until browned, about 30- 40 minutes.
  7. Immediately loosen the nuts with a spatula and set aside to cool for at least one hour.

 

Cumin Cayenne Cashews, Pine Nuts and Pistachios

Buttery, spicy and peppery. I don’t know what it is about this combination of flavors- the soft buttery cashew and the potent, almost raunchy cumin- but these nuts are just staggeringly yummy.

If you don’t want to use cumin seed, simply substitute half the amount of ground cumin and add it when you add the salt.

Cumin Cayenne Cashews, Pine Nuts and Pistachios
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Serves: 2 cups
 
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 cups combination raw cashews, pine nuts and pistachios
  • 2 teaspoon cumin seed
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
Instructions
  1. Place a large skillet over medium high heat and add the oil.
  2. When the oil is very hot, add the nuts. They should sizzle when they hit the oil.
  3. Cook, stirring constantly, until they just turn reddish brown, about 2- 3 minutes.
  4. Add the cumin seed and cook until they turn brown, about 30 seconds.
  5. Remove the nuts with a slotted spoon and sprinkle with the salt, cayenne and pepper.
  6. Transfer to a paper towel and set aside to cool for at least one hour.

 

Curried Garlic Peanuts

Peanuts, also known as monkeynuts or groundnuts, are not actually nuts but are really legumes (plants that have seed pods that split along both sides) that grow underground. It’s best not to include them in mixes unless you are certain that none of your guests are allergic.

Stir these into rice, noodles or a chicken or beef stir fry.

Curried Garlic Peanuts
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Serves: 2 cups
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups lightly toasted unsalted peanuts
  • 1 teaspoon peanut or olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon curry
  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.
  2. Place the peanuts, oil, garlic powder and curry powder in a bowl and toss until the nuts are well coated.
  3. Transfer to a baking sheet and place in the oven.
  4. Bake for 10 minutes.
  5. Add the salt and set aside to cool for 1 hour.

 

Spicy Sesame Peanuts

Other than popping these in your mouth, obvious uses for these nuts are their inclusion in sesame noodles and shredded salads with chicken, shrimp or crabmeat. Drink with sake.

Dark and nutty, toasted sesame oil is pressed from, well, you guessed it: toasted sesame seeds. It is most commonly used in Asian cooking and once you using it in your cooking, it is hard to go back to the lighter, less fragrant run of the mill sesame oil. It does need to be used sparingly as it will certainly overpower almost any dish.

Spicy Sesame Peanuts
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Serves: 2 cups
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups lightly toasted peanuts
  • 2 teaspoons hot sesame oil
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • ¾- 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 ½- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.
  2. Place the peanuts, oil, garlic powder, ginger, pepper flakes and chili powder in a bowl and toss until the nuts are well coated.
  3. Transfer to a baking sheet and place in the oven.
  4. Bake for 10 minutes.
  5. Add the salt and set aside to cool for 1 hour.

 

Smoky Spicy Peanuts

Rich, smoky and in spite of the lack of sugar, just a little bit sweet. A must serve with bloody Mary’s or beer.

Liquid smoke is the kind of thing that is easy to disdain if you don’t know what it is. The brand I use is Colgin Liquid Smoke: all natural with no preservatives or additives. From their web site: “This condensed or “liquid” smoke is …produced by burning fresh cut hickory, mesquite, apple, and pecan wood chips at extremely high temperatures and moisture levels.  There’s nothing “synthetic” about it – it’s not made from chemicals. It is made by placing high grade smoking woods in sealed retorts, where intense heat makes the wood smolder (not burn), releasing the gases seen in ordinary smoke. These gases are quickly chilled in condensers, which liquefies the smoke; it is then forced through seven refining vats and a large filter, to remove impurities, and finally to the receiving and barreling tanks.”

Smoky Spicy Peanuts
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Serves: 4 cups
 
Ingredients
  • 4 cups raw peanuts
  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon liquid smoke flavoring
  • 1 tablespoon olive or peanuts oil
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1- 2 teaspoons Tabasco Pepper Sauce
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Place all the ingredients, except the salt, in a large bowl and toss until the peanuts are well coated. Transfer to the prepared sheet and place in the oven.
  3. Bake, stirring occasionally, until the nuts turn a deep golden brown, about 20- 30 minutes.
  4. Set aside to cool for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.

 

Killer Peanuts

And I do mean killer. These are not for shy and retiring types. And don’t even think of popping one in your mouth without a beer in your hand. Or at least a glass of milk. I don’t even like peanuts but I couldn’t stop eating these.

If you like grinding your own nuts into butter, don’t forget these: they grind into awesome peanut butter.

While perfect alone for a big party, accompanied by chips, salsa and chicken wings, try these atop spicy sesame noodles and salads. Or chop and mix into peanut butter cookies or vanilla ice cream.

Killer Peanuts
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Serves: 4 cups
 
Ingredients
  • 4 cups unsalted, roasted peanuts, with or without skin
  • 1 tablespoon chili or vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sweet or hot paprika
  • 1 teaspoon chile powder
  • 1½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
  2. Place the nuts and oil in a large bowl and toss to combine.
  3. Add the spices and toss again. Transfer to a roasting pan and place in the oven.
  4. Bake for 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.

 

Garlic Almonds and Hazelnuts

A great addition, chopped and sprinkled on steamed or sauteed dark leafy vegetables such as broccoli rabe, spinach, or kale. Pine nuts are also great cooked this way.

Keep your eye on these to be sure the garlic doesn’t burn.

Garlic Almonds and Hazelnuts
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Serves: 2 cups
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups whole almonds or hazelnuts, skin on, or a combination
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons finely minced fresh garlic
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
  2. Place the almonds, oil garlic and garlic powder in a bowl and toss until the nuts are well coated. Transfer to a roasting pan and arrange in a single layer.
  3. Place in the oven and cook until the nuts begin to color, about 20 minutes.
  4. Transfer to a paper towel to drain excess oil and set aside to cool.

 

Indian Almonds with Coconut

The babysitter arrives, we choose a late movie and then begin the night at one of our favorite East Indian restaurants in Waltham, MA. The meals are exotic, the spices aromatic, and the rice pudding – suffused with rose water and cardamon—are sprinkled with a version of these spicy almonds. It’s a heady and rich combination that stays with me even after the babysitter goes home.

Indian Almonds with Coconut
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
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Serves: 2 cups
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups whole almonds
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • lime zest
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Place the almonds, curry powder, chili powder, ginger and cardamom in a bowl and toss to combine. Transfer to the prepared sheet and arrange in a single layer.
  3. Place in the oven and cook until lightly colored, about 45 minutes.
  4. Add the salt and lime zest and set aside to cool.

 

Hot- Sweet Black and White Sesame Almonds

My friend Lizzy Shaw, who lives in California and comes to visit once a year, made these last New Year’s Eve. When she came back this year, she perfected them. Neither she nor my husband Mark could stop eating them.

Almonds, which are not actually nuts, botanically speaking, are stone fruits. They are rich in protein, calcum and riboflavin. Only a small portion of the fat in almonds is saturated and is among the lowest of nuts.

Although I have used blanched almonds in many of these recipes, I prefer to eat them skin- on. Some people (not me) consider the skins bitter. If you are one of these and you like your almonds blanched, simply drop skin-on them in a bowl of boiling water and let sit for 2- 3 minutes. Drain and rub off the skins with your hands.

Hot- Sweet Black and White Sesame Almonds
Author: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1½ cups
 
Ingredients
  • 1 ½ cups whole almonds (3/4 cup blanched, ¾ cup unsalted)
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon black sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoon white sesame seeds
Instructions
  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Place ¼ cup sugar in a large skillet and cook over medium heat until melted. Add the almonds and cook until they are coated with the syrup.
  3. Place the remaining ingredients in a bowl and toss to combine.
  4. Add a small amount of the mixture to the almonds, stirring all the while.
  5. Add the remaining mixture, a little bit at a time, and toss until all the mixture has been used. Transfer to the prepared sheet and arrange in a single layer: separate the almonds with a fork or your hands.
  6. Immediately loosen the nuts with a spatula and set aside to cool.

 

Chris and Doc’s Zaatar Almonds and Pistachios

I was looking through Chris Schlesinger and John Willoughby’s book, Big Flavors of the Hot Sun, for inspiration and read the recipe too quickly, thinking that Grilled Chicken Thighs with Persian Style Nut Rub was for chicken with spiced nuts. Instead it turned out to be a rub but I had already gotten excited about the possibilities so I turned it into the following:

Zaatar can be found in most ethnic markets with an extensive spice selection. Made up of sesame seeds, sumac and thyme, it is popular in the Middle East where it is sprinkled in salads and on vegetables, meats and breads. Sumac, the berry of a bush that is considered solely decorative in the West, gives the mixture a kind of fruity but slightly sour taste.

Chris and Doc’s Zaatar Almonds and Pistachios
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Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2 cups
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup just toasted whole almonds
  • 1 cup just toasted pistachio nuts
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
  • ½- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon Greek oregano
  • 1 teaspoon zaatar
  • Pinch cayenne or black pepper
Instructions
  1. Place everything in a bowl and toss to combine.
  2. Set aside to cool.

 

Honey Cardamom Almonds

The flavor of the cardamom is definitely prevalent and yet not overpowering in these slightly sticky, slightly peppery, slightly sweet almonds. In fact, it’s almost impossible to tell what the spices are. Leave your guests guessing.

Serve these alongside sliced oranges or chop them up and sprinkle them on squash soup.

Warm and sweet, cardamom is a member of the ginger family. It is most often tasted in Scandinavian, Middle Eastern and Indian dishes and smelled in perfumes. Although it is somewhat stronger in seed form, I am a big fan of it ground.

Honey Cardamom Almonds
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Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2 cups
 
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 2 cups whole almonds, blanched or not
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 ½- 2 teaspoons ground cardamom
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Instructions
  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Place the honey in a large skillet and bring to a boil over high heat.
  3. Add the almonds and cook, stirring all the while, until most of the honey has been absorbed by the almonds and any remaining honey is a deep amber color, about 2- 3 minutes.
  4. Place the sugar, salt, cardamom and cinnamon in a large bowl and mix well.
  5. Add a small amount of the sugar mixture to the almonds and toss.
  6. Add the remaining sugar mixture, a little bit at a time, and toss until all the mixture has been used. Transfer to the prepared sheet and arrange in a single layer: separate the almonds with a fork or your hands. Set aside to cool.

 

Hot Cayenne Tabasco Almonds

The heat from these fiery nuts doesn’t hit right away. It shows up just when you have just finished the nuts, which makes you want more. And then it happens again. And again. They’re addictive.

Dry mustard, also called powdered mustard, should be called ground mustard seeds.   It seems as if it must be dehydrated prepared mustard but really you use dry mustard to make prepared mustard. It’s sort of backwards.

Hot Cayenne Tabasco Almonds
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
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Serves: 2 cups
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups whole almonds, blanched or not
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons Tabasco Pepper Sauce (any kind)
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon dry mustard
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Place all the ingredients, except the salt, in a large bowl and toss until the nuts are well coated. Transfer to the prepared sheet and arrange in a single layer.
  3. Place in the oven and cook, stirring every 15 minutes, until the nuts are darkened but not burnt, about 45 minutes.
  4. Immediately loosen the nuts with a spatula, sprinkle with the salt and set aside to cool.

 

Three Pepper Almonds

No matter how hard and how often I try, I can’t figure out how to get an even, smooth coat on these almonds.   The end result is an almond that is sweet, spicy and a little gnarly. Serve these with a fruit platter, featuring apples, apricots, plums and prunes or for a sweet tooth, with vanilla ice cream doused with caramel sauce.

California is the only state that produces almonds commercially. 70% of the worlds supply is grown by 6000 farmers on almost half a million acres.

Since Romans times, almonds have been thought to signify five wishes for the bride and groom: health, wealth, happiness, fertility and longevity.  Almonds were once thrown on newlyweds; today, instead, many newlyweds give Jordan almonds to their guests. Jordan almonds, pastel- colored, hard candy- coated almonds, are supposed to represent the bitter and sweet that comes with marriage. Yuck: if you wish for any of the above, try this sweet and spicy recipe instead.

Three Pepper Almonds
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Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2 cups
 
Ingredients
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 2 cups whole almonds, blanched or not
  • ⅓ cup brown sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon crushed red pepper or chipotle flakes
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon white pepper
  • 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
Instructions
  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Place a large skillet over medium heat and when it is hot, add the oil.
  3. Add the almonds and cook until just beginning to color. Add the sugar, one tablespoon at a time, waiting until each tablespoons melts before adding another, and cook until all but one tablespoon have been added.
  4. Sprinkle in the peppers, stirring all the while, and then transfer to the baking sheet.
  5. Sprinkle with the additional tablespoon sugar and the salt.
  6. Immediately loosen the nuts with a spatula and set aside to cool.

 

Salt and Chipotle Chile Almonds

Chipotle chilies are dried, smoked Jalapeno peppers. Their rich, sweet- smoky, almost chocolate flavor makes them a welcome addition to almost anything in my house. In fact, there are few foods that my husband doesn’t think they improve. While they are increasingly available in adobe sauce (dark red chili and vinegar sauce) at grocery stores with good ethnic sections, I have only found the ground or crushed form through Penzey’s Spices at www.Penzeys. com or 1.800.741.7787.

Salt and Chipotle Chile Almonds
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2 cups
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups whole almonds, blanched or not
  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon slightly ground chipotle chile pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Place the almonds, oil and salt in a bowl and mix until the nuts are well coated.
  3. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet and arrange in a single layer.
  4. Place in the oven and cook, tossing every 15 minutes, until lightly browned, about 40- 45 minutes. Set aside to cool.

 

Greek Pistachios and Pine Nuts

Serve with a big hunk of feta cheese, marinated olives and figs, or sprinkle on Greek Salad.

Greek Pistachios and Pine Nuts
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Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2 cups
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup lightly toasted pistachio nuts
  • 1 cup lightly toasted pine nuts
  • 2 teaspoon olive oil
  • ¾ teaspoon Greek oregano
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fennel seed
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • grated zest of one- half lemon
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Place the nuts and oil in a large bowl and toss until the nuts are well coated.
  3. Add the oregano, fennel, salt and pepper and toss again.
  4. Transfer to the prepared pan and arrange in a single layer.
  5. Place in the oven and cook until they begin to color, about 10 minutes.
  6. Add the lemon zest and set aside to cool.

 

Pesto Pine Nuts

Very expensive and delicate, pine nuts are also called pignoli’s, pignolia’s and pinon’s. They are harvested from pine trees and can be found inside the pinecone, a fact that I only came to realize after betting that they didn’t. Most of the pine nuts we use are the thin, more subtle Italian variety, but they are also available in Asian markets. Sprinkle on a simple pasta primavera to create a pesto influence.

Pesto Pine Nuts
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Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2 cups
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups just roasted pine nuts
  • 3 tablespoons store bought or homemade pesto
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
Instructions
  1. Place all the ingredients in a large bowl and toss to combine.
  2. Transfer to a large plate and set aside to dry out for at least 2 hours.

 

Curried Coriander Spiced Pistachios

Crunchy, delicate and spicy but not hot, eat these alone or add to rice pilaf, salad or vanilla ice cream.

Although it comes from the same plant, coriander (the seed) and cilantro (the leaf) are neither interchangeable nor even remotely similar in taste. The seeds, used here and primarily in pickling, have a slightly lemony sage flavor.

Curried Coriander Spiced Pistachios
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2 cups
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups just toasted shelled pistachios
  • 1 tablespoon olive or vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Instructions
  1. Place all the ingredients in a large skillet and toss until the nuts are well coated.
  2. Cook the mixture over low heat until the sugar melts and the nuts are well coated, about 4- 5 minutes.
  3. Set aside to cool.

 

Saffron Pistachios

Very subtle, almost delicate saffron flavor that improves as it sits, these nuts really need to cool completely.

If you haven’t had a good pistachio lately it’s probably because you’re eating those grown in California. While they’re easier to open and comparatively large, their flavor isn’t as good as the smaller, more flavorful Turkish pistachio.

Saffron, the world’s most expensive spice, is fortunately so flavorful that you need just a tiny bit to flavor foods. Used most famously in Risotto Milanese, Paella, Bouillabaisse and primarily in Spanish and French dishes, saffron adds a kind of aromatic pungency and a gorgeous yellow color.

Like nutmeg, pistachios are drupes. A drupe has a soft flesh and a hard seed or stone in the middle. To remove the outer covering they must be soaked first. Stone fruit, like peaches, plums and apricots are also drupes.

Saffron Pistachios
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2 cups
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups just toasted shelled pistachios
  • 2 tablespoons Spanish olive oil
  • 4 saffron threads, crushed (or 1 teaspoon curry powder)
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.
  2. Place the pistachio nuts and oil in a bowl and toss until the nuts are well coated.
  3. Add the saffron and salt and toss until combined.
  4. Transfer to a roasting pan and arrange in a single layer. Place in the oven and cook until the nuts just begin to color, about 20 minutes.
  5. Transfer to a paper towel to drain and set aside to cool.

 

Pistachios with Anise

It’s no surprise that I have become obsessed with nuts. When our family recently went out for ice cream at Toscanini’s Ice Cream in Cambridge, I spied a new and unfamiliar flavor: Pistachio Anise. I tasted it (though I had a scoop of Burnt Sugar instead) and immediately ran home to try this combination on nuts. The result is great alone with Sambuca, or obviously, mixed into vanilla ice cream.

Pistachios, also known as the green almond, originated in Persia. The most common use for pistachios, not surprisingly, is pistachio ice cream, which was invented by Philadelphia’s James W. Parkinson in the 1940’s.

Pistachios with Anise
Author: 
Prep time: 
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Serves: 2 cups
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups shelled pistachio nuts
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 1 ½ tablespoons Sambuca or any anise flavored liquor
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoons anise seed
Instructions
  1. Place the pistachios, oil, Sambuca, salt and anise seed in a large skillet and cook over high heat until the liquid is absorbed, about 2- 3 minutes.
  2. Lower the heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the nuts have darkened, about 10 minutes.
  3. Transfer to a plate and set aside to cool.

 

Spiced Macadamia Nuts

Rich, creamy, crunchy and spicy, this rendition made a convert out of me. I can’t say I ever liked macadamia nuts until I tried these.

Spiced Macadamia Nuts
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2 cups
 
Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 cups raw macadamia nuts
  • 1 heaping tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne, or more to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Place the oil and nuts in a bowl and toss until well coated.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well.
  4. Transfer to the prepared sheet and place in the oven.
  5. Bake until lightly browned, about 25- 30 minutes. Set aside to cool.

 

Cinnamon Sugar and Orange Macadamia Nuts

Reminiscent of the cinnamon sugar toast I lived on as a child, these nuts are rich yet delicately flavored.

Cinnamon Sugar and Orange Macadamia Nuts
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2 cups
 
Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 cups raw macadamia nuts
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Place the butter and nuts in a bowl and toss until well coated.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well.
  4. Transfer to the prepared sheet and place in the oven.
  5. Bake until lightly browned, about 25- 30 minutes. Set aside to cool.

 

Rachel Travers’ Cinnamon Spiced Pecans

Rachel is a local food writer who writes frequently for The Boston Globe and both she and her mother, Bernice, have been an invaluable source for countless and extraordinary recipes. This combination is, she says, “more complex than you can imagine sugar, salt and cinnamon to be” and she swears that it’s always the most popular item at a buffet table. It can be easily tripled but if you triple it, only double the egg and water. She also make this using walnuts.

These are not as sweet as Jennifer Legeti’s and they are made a bit spicy by the addition of the cinnamon.

Rachel Travers’ Cinnamon Spiced Pecans
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4 cups
 
Ingredients
  • 1 large egg white (2 tablespoons)
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 4 cups raw pecan halves
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 225 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Place the egg whites in a large stainless steel bowl and whisk until frothy.
  3. Slowly whisk in the salt and sugar until thick.
  4. Fold in the nuts and toss until well coated. Transfer to the prepared pan and arrange in a single layer.
  5. Place in the oven and bake, stirring gently every 15 minutes, until the meringue covers the nuts with a chewy pale golden brown coating, about 35-40 minutes.
  6. Let sit 5 minutes and then remove from pan. If you leave them in the pan too long, they will be hard to remove.
  7. Immediately loosen the nuts with a spatula and set aside to cool.

 

Jennifer Legeti’s Classic Sugared Holiday Nuts

The classic, perfect nut for an open house. My friend Jennifer Legeti claims that she isn’t much of a cook but every time she gives me a recipe, it immediately becomes an essential part of my repertoire. She bags these in the winter for holiday gifts. Pair with mulled wine for adults and hot cider for kids.

Jennifer Legeti’s Classic Sugared Holiday Nuts
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4 cups
 
Ingredients
  • 2 large egg whites (4 tablespoons)
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 cups lightly toasted pecan halves
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Place the egg whites in a large stainless steel bowl and whisk until frothy.
  3. Slowly whisk in the salt and sugar until thick.
  4. Fold in the nuts and toss until well coated.
  5. Transfer to the prepared pan and arrange in a single layer.
  6. Place in the oven and bake, stirring gently every 15 minutes, until the meringue covers the nuts with a chewy pale golden brown coating, about 35-40 minutes.
  7. Let sit 5 minutes and then remove from pan. If you leave them in the pan too long, they will be hard to remove.
  8. Immediately loosen the nuts with a spatula and set aside to cool.

 

Jenny’s friend Leo’s Grandmother’s Pumpkin Pecans

This is my favorite kind of recipe, one that gets handed down and handed down and, most importantly, tastes great and works no matter how many adjustments you make. When I told Jenny Alperen that I was spending all my time making spiced pecans, she said she had just tasted some that reminded her of pumpkin pie. And then she did the research. Billie Foret, from Pelham, Georgia gave this recipe to her grandson, Leo Mascotte, who makes them every year for his big Xmas party. I like to eat them with hot cider.

Leo approximated the spices and I ended up doubling them for a richer flavor.

Allspice, also known as Jamaican pepper, while often thought to be a combination of cinnamon, nutmeg and clove, is actually the berry of the evergreen pimento tree.

Jenny’s friend Leo’s Grandmother's Pumpkin Pecans
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4 cups
 
Ingredients
  • 1 large egg white, lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons cold water
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon chili powder
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 4 cups raw pecan halves
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Place the egg white, water, sugar, spices and salt in a large bowl and mix well. Let stand 15 minutes.
  3. Add the pecans to the mixture and toss until well coated.
  4. Transfer to the prepared sheet and arrange in a single layer place.
  5. Place in the oven and cook, stirring every 15 minutes, until the pecans appear dry, about 1 hour and 15 minutes.
  6. Immediately loosen the nuts with a spatula and set aside to cool.

 

Toasted Cumin Pecans

Probably the quickest and easiest recipe in the book, I love the simplicity and great taste that comes from matching the nutty, aromatic cumin with the pecans. The result: a heady, tasty treat just perfect for a late afternoon pick up.

Keep a handful in your desk or munch on them while cooking dinner and drinking beer. Use them to garnish a salad or a soup, either especially with black beans and cilantro.

When you are toasting the nuts, simply add the cumin seeds about 5 minutes prior to taking them out of the oven.

Toasted Cumin Pecans
Author: 
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2 cups
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups just toasted pecan halves
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon toasted cumin seed
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • Pinch to ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Instructions
  1. Place everything in a bowl and toss to combine.

 

Sherry and Sugar Glazed Pecans

Delicate and sophisticated, these sherried nuts are very adult: a great pre-dinner snack to serve with cheese and other traditional hors d’oeuvres. Certainly a good quality Spanish sherry is the right liquid accompaniment or if you are using champagne in the nuts, champagne. Any leftovers can be added to a composed or lettuce salad.

Sherry and Sugar Glazed Pecans
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4 cups
 
Ingredients
  • 1 large egg white (2 tablespoons)
  • 6 tablespoons sherry or champagne
  • ½- ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • 4 cups raw pecan halves
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Place the egg white in a large stainless steel bowl and whisk until frothy.
  3. Add the champagne, sugar and salt and whisk until blended.
  4. Add the spices and nuts, stirring until well coated.
  5. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet and arrange in a single layer.
  6. Place in the oven and cook, stirring every 15 minutes, until the pecans appear dry, about 1 hour and 15 minutes.
  7. Immediately loosen the nuts with a spatula and set aside to cool.

 

Charlie’s Art Teacher’s Orange Cinnamon Pecans

Eight year old Charlie Steinberg brought a little cellophane bag of my pecans to his art teacher, who thanked me by offering this one.

Though great for snacking and adding to salads, these are terrific added to granola, trail mix or dried fruits.

Charlie’s Art Teacher's Orange Cinnamon Pecans
Author: 
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1 cup
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup lightly toasted pecans
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice concentrate
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
Instructions
  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Place all the ingredients in a bowl and toss until the nuts are well coated.
  3. Transfer to the prepared sheet and arrange in a single layer.
  4. Set aside overnight, when the nuts will have dried out.

 

Sugared Bourbon Pecans

I really wasn’t too keen on trying a recipe that essentially boiled nuts in sugar, and yet I found myself unable to resist eating these once they had cooled. My husband, Mark, compares their taste and texture to glazed donuts so if you’re the type who can’t stop at the first donut, beware: while they taste delicious, you’ll be sorry later.

Crumble over French toast or waffles, drink with coffee, lace the maple syrup with even more bourbon.

Sugared Bourbon Pecans
Author: 
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Serves: 2 cups
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¼ cup water
  • 6 tablespoons bourbon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 cups lightly toasted pecan halves
Instructions
  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Place the sugar, water, bourbon, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt in a medium size pot and bring to a boil over high heat.
  3. Cook until the mixture reaches the softball stage, about 234 degrees on a candy thermometer or when the bubbles have bubbles.
  4. Add the pecans and stir until well coated.
  5. Transfer to the prepared sheet, immediately loosen the nuts with a spatula and set aside to cool.

 

Holy Mole’ Pecans

I totally love these meringue- y, chocolate spicy nuts. Like the Mexican dish these are named after, these pecans are rich without being too sweet.

Serve with a hot fudge sundae (coffee, vanilla, chocolate, butterscotch and orange are good ice cream choices) and coffee liquors like Tia Maria, Kalhua drinks or White Russians.

Holy Mole’ Pecans
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2 cups
 
Ingredients
  • 1 egg white (2 tablespoons)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups raw pecan halves
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 225 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Place the egg white in a large stainless steel bowl and whip until frothy.
  3. Whip in vanilla extract.
  4. Gently add the pecans and toss until completely coated with the mixture.
  5. Place the sugar, cornstarch, cocoa powder, chili powder, salt, cinnamon and cumin in a bowl and toss until well combined.
  6. Add sugar mixture to pecans, ¼ at a time and very gently toss until well coated.
  7. Transfer to the prepared sheet and arrange in a single layer: try to not let the pecans touch each other.
  8. Place the sheet in the oven and cook for 30 minutes.
  9. Gently turn over the nuts and continue cooking, stirring every 15 minutes, until the coating is dry, lightly colored and dried out, about 1 hour and 15 minutes.
  10. Immediately loosen the nuts with a spatula and set aside to cool.

 

BBQ Pecans

Finger licking good. Great for snacking, added to salads with leftover roasted pork or chicken, added to rice, coleslaw, wild rice salads . They remind my friend Susan of Buffalo wings, so whenever I bring them to her house, I always pick up a chunk of hearty blue cheese. These pecans are not for formal dinners; they’re for feet-up-on-the-coffee-table afternoons — add a great football game and a beer.

BBQ Pecans
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2 cups
 
Ingredients
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter or vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon catsup
  • ¼ teaspoon Tabasco Pepper Sauce
  • 2 cups raw pecan halves
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Place butter or oil, Worcestershire, catsup and Tabasco sauce in a bowl and stir to combine.
  3. Add pecans and mix until well coated.
  4. Transfer pecans to the prepared baking sheet and arrange in a single layer.
  5. Place in the oven and bake, stirring frequently, until lightly browned, about 30 minutes.
  6. Drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with additional salt if desired.

 

Texas Chili Inspired Spicy Pecans

Very similar in flavor to Texas chili, these crowd pleasers are great to bring to a neighbor’s house for an event like a Superbowl or holiday party. They can accompany almost any beverage, especially beer and soda.

Texas Chili Inspired Spicy Pecans
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Serves: 2 cups
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups raw pecan halves
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • ¼ teaspoon dried crushed red pepper flakes
  • ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Place the pecans in a large bowl, add the butter and toss until well coated.
  3. Place the sugar, spices and salt in a small bowl, mix well and sprinkle over the pecans, tossing to coat.
  4. Transfer the nuts to the prepared sheet and arrange in a single layer.
  5. Place in the oven and bake, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 20- 25 minutes. Immediately loosen the nuts with a spatula and set aside to cool.

 

Roasted Tabasco Pecans

A little hotter and less sweet than the previous recipe, Roasted Southern Sweet and Piquant Pecans. Great with a big hunk of blue cheese and a beer, limeade or lemonade.

Be very careful not to overcook because the Tabasco and Worcestershire burn easily.

Roasted Tabasco Pecans
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Serves: 2 cups
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups raw pecan halves
  • 1 large egg white (2 tablespoons)
  • 1 tablespoon Tabasco Pepper Sauce
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Place the egg whites in a large stainless steel bowl and whisk until frothy.
  3. Whisk in the Tabasco, sugar, Worcestershire sauce and salt.
  4. Add the pecans and toss until completely coated.
  5. Transfer to the prepared sheet and arrange in a single layer.
  6. Place in the oven and cook, stirring every 15 minutes, until lightly colored and dried out, about 1 hour and 15 minutes.
  7. Immediately loosen the nuts with a spatula and set aside to cool.

 

Roasted Southern Sweet and Piquant

Watch out: this is an addictive snack! For a hotter and more pungent dish, go with the larger amount of cayenne. Try mixing broken pieces into cornbread for a spicy, crunchy sensation. Serve with Iced tea or lemonade.

Be very careful not to overcook because the Tabasco and Worcestershire burn easily

Roasted Southern Sweet and Piquant
Author: 
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Serves: 2 cups
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups raw pecan halves
  • 1 large egg white (2 tablespoons)
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons sweet paprika
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 – 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Place the egg whites in a large stainless steel bowl and whisk until frothy.
  3. Whisk in the sugar, paprika, Worcestershire sauce, cayenne and salt.
  4. Add the pecans and toss until completely coated.
  5. Transfer to the prepared sheet and arrange in a single layer.
  6. Place in the oven and cook, stirring every 15 minutes, until lightly colored and dried out, about 1 hour and 15 minutes.
  7. Immediately loosen the nuts with a spatula and set aside to cool.

 

Shellacked Balsamic Pecans

I had six friends over for a nut fest and swore that no one would be able to guess the flavorings of this unusual pecan and yet my friend Toni Bowerman did. In fact, in a group of about twelve contenders, these were her hands down favorite. In spite of all the sugar these are not only not sweet, the balsamic vinegar gives them an appealing sourness. Swirl these into vanilla ice cream and/or with strawberries drizzled with additional balsamic.

Drink with red wines like Merlot or Cabernet or with Port.

Shellacked Balsamic Pecans
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Serves: 2 cups
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups lightly toasted pecan halves
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ⅓ cup balsamic vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon chili powder or cayenne pepper (optional)
Instructions
  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Place the pecans, sugar and vinegar in a large skillet and cook over medium heat until the pecans are well coated and there is no liquid at the bottom, about 3- 5 minutes.
  3. Sprinkle with the salt and set aside to cool on the prepared sheet.
  4. Immediately loosen the nuts with a spatula and set aside to cool.

 

Pecans au Poivre

For pepper lovers only, these nuts can definitely create an addiction. The technique of cooking them first in a melted mixture of salt, sugar and pepper creates a hard coating. This coating is then covered in the same mixture, not cooked, which results in a pecan with a sort of attractive, but weird gray dusting.

For a great contrast, serve with a triple crème cheese, like explorateur. These are also great sprinkled over grilled steak (add some blue cheese too) or tossed into mashed potatoes with sour cream or fettucine Alfredo.

Don’t make the pepper too fine – keep in coarsely ground.

Pecans au Poivre
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Serves: 2 cups
 
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • ¼ cup coarsely ground black pepper
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 cups lightly toasted pecan halves
Instructions
  1. Place the salt, pepper and sugar in a bowl and toss to combine.
  2. Place a large heavy bottomed skillet over high heat and when it is hot, add the pecans and ⅔ of the sugar mixture and cook until the sugar has melted and completely coats the pecans.
  3. Off heat, add the remaining sugar mixture and toss until well dusted.
  4. Transfer to a large plate and set aside to cool.

 

Indian Spiced Pecans

Iced tea with mint is definitely the drink of choice. Add these exotic nuts to basmati rice, rice pudding or poultry dishes, especially Curried Chicken Salads.

A member of the ginger family, cardamom is a warm, sweet- spicy aromatic that can be detected in a lot of Indian and Scandinavian cooking. If you don’t have any, simply increase the ground ginger to ¾ teaspoon. Also try this recipe with pistachio nuts.

Indian Spiced Pecans
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Serves: 2 cups
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups raw pecan halves
  • 1 large egg white (2 tablespoons)
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon dry mustard
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Place pecans and oil in a large bowl and toss until well mixed.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients and toss until completely covered with mixture.
  4. Transfer to the prepared sheet and arrange in a single layer.
  5. Place in the oven and cook, stirring every 15 minutes, until lightly colored and dried out, about 45 minutes.
  6. Immediately loosen the nuts with a spatula and set aside to cool.

 

Rum Glazed Spiced Pecans

This classic combination of rum and pecans is a winner. When you taste these, they seem as if they must have taken hours to prepare and yet, they take only a few minutes. Serve these with orange slices or use to garnish anything from coconut cake to ice cream sundaes.

Rum Glazed Spiced Pecans
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Serves: 2 cups
 
Ingredients
  • **For the spice mix**
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
  • 2 cups just toasted pecans
  • **For the rum glaze**
  • 2 tablespoons dark rum
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar, dark or light
  • 1 teaspoon unsalted butter
Instructions
  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Place the spices in a small bowl and mix to combine.
  3. To make the glaze: Place the rum, vanilla, sugar and butter in a medium size saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat.
  4. Add the pecans and cook until they are well coated and the pan is almost dry, about 1 minute.
  5. Spoon the spices on the nuts, one tablespoon at a time, until they are well coated.
  6. Transfer to the prepared sheet, separate with your hands or a fork, and let sit until completely dried, at least one hour and up to overnight.