One of the first things I made when I first started cooking–well, cooking more than eggs and pasta on a regular basis–was spiced nuts. It seems a long time ago that I threw an infused vodka party sometime in mid December after classes got out, but no one had gone home yet. It was sort of an early holiday/see you in about a month party for my friends and fellow students. I served up a bunch of things that I had purchased from a nearby gourmet market. But I also served up a variation on these nuts. And they were good. Real good. Good enough that if I had told anyone there that I had made them rather than bought them at the gourmet market, they wouldn’t have believed me. So I didn’t. Not that anyone asked. They were all too happy imbibing flavored vodka drinks.
These spiced nuts are a holiday standby. They make a great snack and if you make them, they can be utilized in a number of delicious dishes. They’re saltiness makes them a perfect foil for sweets, and their slight spicy sweetness makes them the perfect addition to savory dishes. I’ve added them to everything from a roasted butternut squash salad with balsamic vinaigrette to mashed sweet potatoes topped in marshmallows and they’re a hit every time. This time, we have something special to recommend to you, but for now, you can just enjoy them as is.
150g whole pecans (about 2 cups whole)
3 tbsp granulated sugar
1 1/2 tbsp cinnamon
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp smoked paprika
1/8 tsp cayenne
1/8 tsp black pepper
Preheat your oven to 225F. Mix all the dry ingredients except the pecans in a large bowl or plastic ziplock. Break egg and add to the spices, mixing well. Add the pecans, turning them to coat in your bowl, or shaking to coat in your bag. Spread the pecans in a single layer over a silicone baking mat that has been placed on a cookie sheet, or line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and lightly coat with cooking spray to prevent sticking and spread the pecans there. Put in the oven for about an hour, or until the pecans are dry. I like to turn up the oven to 350F for 5-10 minutes at the end, just to get the pecans extra dry and roasted.
Remove the baking sheet from the oven and let the pecans stand until they come to room temperature. The pecans will keep, in an airtight container, for 3-5 days, but are best when eaten the same day.