Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Spiced Nuts from David Lebovitz

In April of 2011 the King of Soup and I traveled to Paris and Barcelona to celebrate our ten year wedding anniversary. We had an amazing time in both cities – we rented apartments and tried to live like the locals. We ate, walked, ate some more, walked some more, and enjoyed each other’s company (without our children around!). I loved both cities, but definitely felt more at home in Paris. Ever since we returned, I find myself drawn to anything that is from Paris, says Paris on it, smells like Paris, etc. I admit that this could become a problem in the future, but for now I am embracing it (until I can get back to Paris and experience that city again in person).

As we were preparing for our travels, one of my friends who gets to go to Paris regularly, told me about David Lebovitz. David has written a book called The Sweet Life in Paris, and also writes a blog. I started following the blog in preparation for the trip, and continue to read it daily now that I am home.

About three weeks ago, I was reading a recent post and at the bottom of the post there were some links to older recipes. The one that caught my eye immediately was called Spiced Glazed Nuts and Pretzel Mix. I decided to try it and immediately was hooked. Uh oh.

I have made this several times in the past three weeks. Each time I have shared it with other people – thank goodness or I might weigh 300 pounds very soon. I have two small adjustments: first, I used light brown sugar instead of dark, because it is what I had on hand in the pantry. Today I made it with dark, just to see if it would turn out differently. The only difference I can detect is that the mixture is darker in colour than my last three (maybe four) batches. But it tastes the same – wonderful. The second adjustment I made was to increase the cayenne pepper from ¾ tsp to 1 tsp. But that is up to you.

This would be a great holiday gift, packaged nicely in a Mason jar with a pretty ribbon around the neck. Or, you can keep it all for yourself.

2 cups raw nuts (I used ¾ cup pecan halves, ¾ cup almonds and ½ cup cashews – you could also use hazelnuts and peanuts – whatever you prefer)
1 tbsp butter (David Lebovitz specifies unsalted, but I always use salted because I don’t buy unsalted butter – what’s the point?)
3 tbsp dark brown sugar (again, I used light brown sugar)
1 ½ tbsp maple syrup
¾ tsp cayenne pepper
½ tsp cinnamon
2 cups pretzel twists, small (I used sticks once when I could not find the twists – the twists definitely work better because they are more bite-sized)
1 tsp flaked or Kosher salt


Place the nuts on a cookie sheet and roast them for 10 minutes at 350 degrees F. Stir the nuts halfway through for even toasting.

Meanwhile, place the butter in a large-ish bowl and melt it in the microwave for about 20 – 30 seconds. Remove the bowl from the microwave and add the sugar, maple syrup, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper. Mix it all up until the sugar is dissolved. 

Today I forgot to melt the butter first so I just put it all into the microwave.

Pour the mixture over the warm nuts when they come out of the oven. Stir to coat. 
Add the pretzels and the salt and stir again.

Return to the oven on the cookie sheet and bake for another 12 to 18 minutes. 12 is perfect in my oven. Be sure to stir halfway through for even toasting. David says to stir twice, but I only did it once and all was well with the world.

As the mixture cools, you can break it apart – it will stick together in clumps because of the sugar and maple syrup.

Additional Notes:

Today when I made the recipe, I bought already roasted nuts, just to see if it made a difference. In doing so, I eliminated the first 10 minute roasting period. The end result was pretty much the same so it’s up to you what you prefer to do.

Note as well that you add the salt at the end so it doesn’t dissolve. Be sure to use coarse salt so you get the texture that makes these nuts so delish.

The mixture can be stored in an airtight container for up to a week – but it won’t last that long, trust me.

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