Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Spiced Candied Pecans

After a long weekend of porking out on delicious food and helping to cook in a kitchen that rivals mine for lack of space, cooking something elaborate seemed like too much work.  Cooking anything requiring more than one dish and 10 minutes seemed like too much work.  Yesterday was leftovers and some corn on the cob I boiled up quickly.  Today so far has been 2 pickles and snacking on random goodies as I unpacked my groceries.  But I felt that if I went to long without writing, I might get into the habit of going really long without writing.  That, and an attempt to start eating more "healthy fats" in my diet, made me pull out a tried and true recipe.  Spiced Candied Pecans.... yum...

The good thing is that nothing could be easier.  I discovered this somewhere online 2 summers ago when I was living in Providence.  I began to make them weekly, to the extent of annoying my roommate, which was a relatively easy mission to accomplish.  I mostly put them either on my spinach salads I brought for lunch or snacked on them whenever I was home.  Even a double batch never lasted long.  I varied from the original recipe instantly, and probably couldn't even recall it if you wanted.  By why would you?  I used it for the ratios and after a few initial experiments haven't varied it since.  If it ain't broke, don't fix it?

My version has 6 ingredients.  The first thing I do is mix up the sugar and spices.  My one claim to be adventurous tonight was to use turbinado sugar instead of normal sugar, my first time deviating from that specific part of the recipe.  I must admit that substitution came purely from laziness though.  Turbinado was in the front of my pantry and easily accessible.  Regular sugar was under the flour in the back right corner, behind rice, brown sugar and various other random pantry items.   It was a no brainer.  So, 2 teaspoons of sugar.  A heaping 1/4 teaspoon of both cayenne and cinnamon.  That's a lot of cayenne, by the way, if you don't like the heat.  A pinch of kosher salt.  Mix well and step 1 is done.

Step 2 is just as easy.  Melt 1 tablespoon of butter over medium high heat.  Add 1 cup of pecans.  Stir frequently and keep the nuts moving so they don't get burnt.  After a few minutes, they will deepen in color and smell toasty, not a strong smell, but it's still there.  I probably should have timed it for ya'll, but you'll probably be able to tell.  Let's say about 3-5 minutes??

And finally, step 3.  Told you this was easy.  With the pan still on the heat, sprinkle your sugar and spice mixture over the pecans.  I'll sprinkle a bit, then toss, sprinkle then toss, until everything is well coated.  Remove from heat and keep occasionally tossing in the pan another minute or so.  Spread out of aluminum foil and let cool.  Easy, peasy.  No headache, a few dishes maximum and a cup or 2, if you do a double batch like me, of yummy, toasted, spiced, candied pecans.  I really don't think I could throw another adjective in front of them.

Super easy, super yummy and super adaptable to whatever your tastes are!  Oh, and in case you were wondering, the turbinado sugar worked great, melting mostly but also leaving a few crunchy granules on the finished product, something I am at the very moment enjoying.  If you have it on hand, I would suggest it; if not though, it's not worth a special trip to the store.  Normal sugar works fantastically as well.  I've also been meaning to experiment with some cocoa powder lately, but, alas, will have to wait for a day when I'm not lazy, poorly fed and exhausted.

Spiced Candied Pecans

1 Tbsp. butter
1 c. pecans
2 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
Pinch of salt

Melt butter in large skillet over medium heat.  Add pecans and toss frequently, until pecans are toasted and become a deeper brown in color, about 3-5 minutes.

While still on heat, pour sugar/spice mixture over pecans and toss until well coated.  Remove from heat and continue tossing.  Spread pecans out over aluminum foil to cool.

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