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.

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

Makes 4 cups.

1 large egg white (2 tablespoons), 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 red pepper flakes
4 cups raw pecan halves

1. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Place the egg white, water, sugar, salt, spices, and pepper flakes in a large bowl and mix well. Let stand for 15 minutes, then add the pecans and toss until well coated.

3. Transfer the pecans to the prepared sheet and arrange in a single layer. Place in the oven and cook, stirring every 15 minutes, until the pecans appear dry, about 1 hour and 15 minutes.

4. Remove from the oven, immediately loosen the nuts with a metal spatula, and set aside to cool before serving.

If you’re sipping: I like to eat these with hot cider.

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)