Have you ever made spiced nuts: the kind you coat with sugar and/or egg white and heat in the oven or the stove top? In my opinion most of the recipes are a pain. If you aren’t careful or you get sidetracked for just a few minutes, the entire batch can burn. If you add too much sugar, it might melt into jaw-breaking nuggets instead of a silky sheet of sweetness.
And speaking of sugar, take a look at the quantities that are usually called for. If this doesn’t cause a glycemic shock I don’t know what does.
There’s a better way to create glossy, delicately sweet nuts without all this fuss: just use a splash of Spiker’s Shrubs. Any flavor will do, but right now we’re partial to Apple Crisp, Peach Rosemary, and Pineapple Basil. The fruity, tart notes in each of the shrubs adds an extra layer of flavor to whatever spice blend you choose. And it takes less than three minutes for the liquid to reduce and coat the nuts with a lump-free sheen which allows the flavor of the nuts to take center stage.
Our master recipe is veritably fool-proof. Once you’ve made a basic batch, consider some of the variations suggested here. You might never go back to the old ways again!
- 1 cup raw nuts mixed or just one variety (we like a combination of almonds, walnuts, and pecans)
- 2 tablespoons butter (or half butter and half light olive oil)
- 4 tablespoons Spiker's Shrub (any flavor)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
- pinch Atlantic Saltworks flake salt
||Break or chop nuts into manageable sizes or leave whole if desired. Set aside. (See note at bottom re: soaking.) |
In small bowl, mix spices together. Set aside.
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat sheet.
||Heat a 10-inch cast iron frying pan or other heavy skillet over a medium flame for 3-5 minutes. Add the nuts and toss constantly with a spatula until the nuts have a golden roasted appearance. (This usually takes five to seven minutes depending on the type of pan you're using.) If you are using a variety of nuts, brown one type at a time because each has its own burning point. Almonds, for example, take longer than pecans. If you put them together, the pecans would burn before the almonds were ready. |
||Add the butter and/or olive oil and stir constantly while the butter melts and the nuts are coated. Then sprinkle the spice mixture over the nuts and toss quickly to coat. Stir one more minute. |
||Move the skillet to a separate burner that is not turned on. Leave the current burner on. Quickly drizzle the shrub over the nuts (be careful -- it will immediately steam and sizzle). Stir constantly to coat the nuts with shrub and dissolve the dry spice ingredients. |
When the pan stops sizzling, return it to the heat source and turn the heat down. Keeping stirring until all of the shrub has evaporated.
||Empty the nut mixture onto a parchment- or Silpat-lined cookie sheet and spread to a single layer. Sprinkle with a dash of flake sea salt and allow to cool. |
When nuts are completely cool, store in a glass jar (preferred) or a plastic bag.
Other Tasty Ways to Spice Your Glazed Nuts
For each cup of nuts, we recommend you use approximately 1 teaspoon of spices. The mix shown above is just one possibility. Here are some other tasty suggestions.
Mexican-inspired: 1/2 teaspoon cumin + 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika + 1/8 teaspoon cayenne + 1/8 teaspoon ground coriander
Asian-inspired: 1/4 teaspoon ginger + 1/4 teaspoon ground star anise + 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder + 1/8 teaspoon clove + 1/8 teaspoon fennel seed + 2 teaspoons soy sauce. (Omit the sea salt.) If you happen to have it, you may use teaspoon Chinese Five Spice Powder instead of the individual spices listed here.
Indian-inspired: 1/2 to 1 teaspoon curry powder. (If desired, cut back to 3/4 teaspoon and add 1/4 teaspoon cayenne.)
More Flavorful Suggestions
Once you get the hang of this technique, you'll probably be itching to improvise even more. Our favorite technique is to infuse olive oil first with an herb (rosemary is our favorite) along with some fresh garlic cloves. We make large batches of this and keep it in the refrigerator. A good balance is one cup oil, 6 plump garlic cloves peeled and smashed, and 1-2 tablespoons fresh, minced rosemary. Simmer all the ingredients over low heat until the oil starts to make some noise in the pan. Turn off the heat and let the oil infuse with the garlic and rosemary for at least 30 minutes ... or all day if you wish. Strain and discard the solids. Cool and then refrigerate, tightly covered.
... and One Last Thing: A Note About Nuts
We have become firm believers in soaking nuts overnight before using in any recipe. The advantages are many. Even if you don't have a problem digesting nuts, soaked nuts are softer and more delicate. Walnuts in particular are cleansed of a tannic, acid bite which often conflicts with the flavors in any dish they accompany.