Monday, December 14, 2009

Perfect Sugared Pecans with a kick

I am often asked how to sugar coat nuts for salads. I have tried many methods, with varying levels of success. After lots of fiddling, this has become my favorite and most reliable way to do it. First, mix 2/3 cup of sugar with a teaspoon of cinnamon, a pinch of cayenne and a dash of salt.
Next, toast your nuts (a generous 2 cups worth) in a single layer in a nonstick skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until they begin to smell fragrant and turn slightly more golden.
Sprinkle all but about 3 T. of sugar mixture over the nuts.
Let it sit for about 30 seconds, until the sugar starts to melt, then stir well until all of the nuts are coated and cook for about 60 seconds more until the sugar is mostly melted. Pull off the burner, and sprinkle the remaining sugar mixture over, tossing well until all the nuts are coated. Pour out onto parchment paper to cool, carefully breaking apart any that happen to still stick together.
This yields a nut that is glazed, but has a nice crystallized exterior, which also means that you don't get enormous globs of nuts cemented permanently together. Not that there's anything wrong with that...perfectly snitch-worthy, but not as pretty on a salad.

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