By Riki Shore
Candied, toasted or spiced nuts are a staple in our house. We snack on them, eat them on the go, add them to salads and stir-fries, and call them dessert.
Recipes for spiced nuts abound. One common method calls for tossing a frothy egg white with the nuts and spices; when baked, the egg white acts as a binder and creates a delicate crust on the outside of the nuts. The result can be delicious, but I prefer a less fussy technique.
These spiced pecans are tossed with melted butter, spices, sugar and salt. Once evenly coated, they’re baked at a low temperature until toasty and golden on the inside. It’s simple and produces a sweet-and-savory snack that works well in homemade trail mix or served alongside olives and charcuterie. In the South, a bowl of spiced pecans is common and elegant at the same time.
Nutritionally, pecans are a rich source of protein and dietary fiber. They more closely resemble walnuts than almonds, having a higher level of fat, specifically Omega-6 fatty acids. This means you shouldn’t eat them constantly; they’re not one of the “superfood” nuts. But they’re soft and buttery, and a little bit of them goes a long way.
5 ounces pecan halves
1 tablespoon butter
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon raw sugar
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
2. Melt the butter, then stir in the cumin and cayenne. Pour this over the pecans and toss to coat.
3. Add the sugar and salt, and toss again to coat well.
4. Pour everything onto a small baking sheet and bake 20 minutes, stirring every 6 – 7 minutes, until the kitchen smells like pecans and the nuts are golden on the inside (carefully remove one to a cutting board and slice it in half to check for doneness).
5. Allow to cool completely, then store, covered, at room temperature for up to 5 days.