Monday, November 17, 2008

Little Splurges: Spiced Candied Pecans

I know, I know: pecans are most certainly not a cheap eat, but hear me out on this one.

You know how nearly every restaurant in the country has some form of salad with candied nuts and blue cheese and dried fruit on mixed greens? And those salads, though tasty, will cost you somewhere between eight and eighteen dollars? Well, for less than the price of one restaurant salad, you can make a great, big batch of these pecans that will turn plate after plate of your humble, home-tossed greens into something special. Plus, this recipe couldn't be simpler. Many candied nut recipes call for deep-frying the nuts or lots of added butter, which isn't really necessary or worth the mess/cost/added fat calories.

So, please: check out my nuts, won't you?

Raw Pecans
Start with a pound of raw pecans.

Whisk together one egg white and one tablespoon of water.

In a large bowl, toss the watery egg whites with the pecans and then transfer the nuts to a colander and let them drain for five minutes. Failure to properly drain your nuts will result in excessive nut goo, and nobody wants that.

While the nuts drain, round up your spices. Here we have cinnamon, cayenne, powdered ginger, and salt. Mix the seasonings together with about one cup of sugar. (For the best sugary adhesion, superfine sugar is the ticket. If you don't have any--and why would you?--just run granulated sugar through a food processor or blender for one minute. Voila!)

baking sheets
In a large bowl, toss the nuts together with the sugar-spice mixture and then spread evenly on two cookie sheets lined with parchment paper. The parchment paper, besides preventing sticking, encourages a nice crispy, lacy, caramel-y exterior on the nuts. Plus, you don't have to wash your pans, which is just plain thrilling.

Bake for about 50 minutes in a 275 degree oven, stirring once half-way through and rotating the pans for even toasting. Added bonus: your house is going to smell fantastic.

The nuts will come out toasty and dry, perfectly coated and crispy, knocking around on the pan with a satisfying crunchy sound not unlike fallen leaves. After letting them cool for about half an hour, toss some of the nuts with mixed greens and vinaigrette, or just store them in an airtight container for a week. (FYI: they will never, ever survive the whole week.)

It probably goes without saying that these nuts are also perfectly delicious straight-up. Put them in a pretty bowl on your coffee table, mix a cocktail, and pretend you're in the bar of a fahncy boutique hotel. Or package some in a little bag and give them away as cheap holiday or hostess gifts. Or put the whole pound in your own mouth in one fell, decadent swoop: what you do with your nuts in the privacy of your home is entirely your business.

(Click here for print-ready recipe.)

Spiced Candied Pecans from BeanPlate
yield: about 4 cups

1 lb. raw pecans (or walnuts)
1 egg white, lightly beaten with 1 T. water
1 cup sugar (or 2/3 cup superfine sugar)
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. salt

Preheat oven (with one rack in the upper and and one in the lower-middle positions) to 275 degrees. In a medium mixing bowl, toss nuts together with egg white mixture. Transfer to a colander and drain for 5 to 10 minutes. Combine the sugar, cinnamon, cayenne, ginger, and salt. Toss the sugar-spice mixture with the drained nuts. Spread nuts evenly on two cookie sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake for about 50 minutes, stirring once and rotating the sheets half-way through baking time. Once crisp, remove nuts from oven and allow to cool completely on cookie sheet. Store in an airtight container.


  1. These make wonderful little gifts for teachers. I buy the cellophane bags at the craft store and go to the dollar store and get christmas mugs, pop one of the bags of pecans into the mug with a few exotic hot teas and it is a simple yet very thoughtful gift thats affordable.

    Thanks for the recipe, this one is spicer than mine I will have to give it a try!

  2. Um, this post was kind of creepy AND useful. Thanks!

  3. My food-nemesis in Seattle makes these with butter and throws them out in cute nut bowls. Yum.

  4. With Thanksgiving around the corner, I have to point out that these delicious bastards are sublime on top of mashed sweet potatoes.

    Can I say bastards on a food blog?

  5. Mmmmmm. Thank you for this.

    So, tell me; how is it that your pictures are SO GORGEOUS?! I have a cooking blog, too, but my pictures are nowhere NEAR as pretty as yours.

  6. You crack me up. Nobody wants gooey nuts. That's fo sho.

    I'm printing this! I'm making these!

    I love spicy nuts!

  7. I want a salad. NOW.

  8. You almost lost me at "lots of added butter, which isn't really necessary or worth the mess/cost/added fat calories", BUT I read on & will try this recipe this weekend. I loves me some toasted nuts!

  9. Nuthin' like spicy, well-drained nuts to get my season started...

  10. With hundreds of pounds of pecans still on the ground and at least sixty cracked and ready to pick out, I can say without doubt that this recipe has impeccable timing. Thanks.

  11. Sugar, spice and everything nice! Perfect timing for the holidays.

  12. Tee-hee... NUTS. Love this post - it's a recipe so easy, even I can make it!

  13. Yumalicious! I'm checking out new recipes for Thanksgiving this week! This one sounds perfect. (I get my pecans at Costco)Thanks :)

  14. Bossy knows this much: you're nuts.

    ah hahahahahahaha.

  15. i just made these and LOVE them. they are perfect and will go with cheese and cranberry cocktails as thanksgiving appetizers. thanks.

  16. The recipes is simple and very nice.

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