My pal Paige Retus is the brilliant pastry chef at Olives in Boston, and she is incapable of making anything that isn’t lip-smacking excellent. She claims that the hard work that goes into making these is well worth the considerable effort, and I couldn’t agree more.
Makes 5 cups.
1 cup (2 sticks) plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1¾ cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
3½ cups raw pecan halves
1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Place the butter in a large, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-low heat until melted. Add the sugar and salt and stir briskly until the mixture comes together. Add the nuts and cook, stirring evenly and constantly until the sugar caramelizes and coats the nuts.
3. Cook until the sugar has turned a beautiful oak brown, 5 to 7 minutes, and carefully pour the hot mass onto the prepared sheet. Quickly separate the nuts with forks or tongs. When the nuts have cooled completely, transfer to an airtight container and store for 3 to 5 days or freeze for up to 2 weeks.
If you’re sipping: Definitely accompany these with strong, dark coffee. Not just for snacking: They make a snappy, salty garnish for crème brúlée or topping for coffee, caramel, or chocolate ice cream.
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)