Sugar and Spice Candied Nuts
The holidays have come and gone a whole ago, but one thing still remains in my house…the smell of sugar and spice. Not a lingering smell, mind you, nope! It’s been a continuing cycle of the sugary wafting of spiciness pervading the house for the last few months because I’ve been making batches and batches of these nuts like it’s my job.
I first decided to give these nuts a try because the recipe looked really easy and they looked like a great, festive homemade gift to hand out to friends during the holidays. What I hadn’t counted on was just how addictive these little guys turned out to be. After supplying about half of my coworkers with them, various family members and friends, I found my neighbors trickling in to visit and partake of these great little snacky snacks.
They’re sugary and they’re sweet, but they’re not so saccharine that you can see your dentist shaking their head at you in disapproval. Once the sweetness lands on your palette, it’s quickly followed up and supported by some spiciness that declares this nut is more than your average ordinary candied confection. You can adjust the spiciness according to your personal tastes, although I find that you can very easily add a fair bit of cayenne to this to give it a good kick and that it pairs wonderfully with the cinnamon sugary goodness.
The great thing about these nuts, outside of the fact that they’re probably the legal culinary equivalent of high grade crack, is that they can be whipped up in less than an hour and are made with ingredients that just about everybody has on hand. So regardless of whether you’re planning on making these well in advanced for some dinner party or if you find yourself last minute without a single idea on what to make or bring to an event, a bag of these tied with a nice neat ribbon will do the trick!
1/3 cup brown (light or dark is fine) sugar
2/3 cup white granulated sugar
1 1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (depending on your tastes, you can lessen this to just a pinch or increase it to 1/2 tsp)
1/4 teaspoon chipotle powder or hot smoked paprika (optional if you want more heat)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 pound mixed nuts (I prefer a mixture of almonds and pecan halves, but you can also use walnuts or whole peeled hazelnuts)
1 egg white, room temperature
1 tablespoon water
Preheat oven to 275 degrees. In a bowl, mix sugars, salt, cayenne, chipotle or paprika if using, and cinnamon. Mix well and make sure that there are no lumps, set aside. In a separate small bowl, beat egg white with water until frothy but not stiff, about 1 minute. In a very large bowl (I use the biggest bowl that I own for this) add your mixed nuts and egg white mixture and stir to coat evenly. Sprinkle 1/4 of sugar mixture evenly over nuts and toss until evenly coated. Repeat process with rest of sugar mixture and until nuts are all even coated.**
Spread sugared nuts in a single layer onto 2 cookie sheets lined with parchment paper or a silpat. Bake for about 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from oven and allow to cool, separating nuts as they cool. Let cool at least an hour before storing in an airtight container.
Prepared nuts can keep about 2 weeks in a dry, airtight container, IF you can keep yourself from pilfering the candied nuts jar!