Monday, December 20, 2010

Kids Cook Monday: The Best Spiced Nuts

20101209_spiced nuts_1

These might have too much sugar to qualify as a purely healthy contribution for The Kids Cook Monday campaign, but they sure beat all the other holiday sweets lying around.

I first made these nuts a few years ago as a Christmas gift for my mother. They're now the only kind of seasoned nuts I make because, as the recipe's genius creator notes, they are the best spiced nuts.
How good?
  • The kids can't stop eating them.
  • One dad says he wants two things when he retires, and one of them is to have these nuts every day. (I didn't find out what the other thing is, because he was too distracted by the nuts.)
  • I lost the original recipe, but when I saw it re-posted at The Hungry Tiger, I did a little dance and ran to share the news with my husband.
That's how good they are.

The flavor is nuanced and addictive. The secret is the Thai hot sauce Sriracha and garam masala, a seductive Indian spice blend. (Think cumin, cinnamon, cardamom...) If you can't find it in a store near you, you can easily mix your own. There are lots of recipes for it, but this one relies on readily available spices you may have on hand. If you're looking for more of a project, there are countless recipes online for toasting your own seeds.

The two kids I recruited to help loved running the stand mixer and smelling the vibrant, colorful seasonings. Kids can help with every step except sliding the nuts off the hot cookie sheets. This comes together quickly and makes a great holiday gift -- I'm bringing another jar home for the holiday. Here's the recipe, courtesy of The Hungry Tiger.

Best Spiced Nuts

I decrease the sugar by just a few teaspoons because I can't help trying to de-sugar the kids. This makes about 6 cups.

Raw, unsalted walnuts, pecans, and/or almonds
2 egg whites
1 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 cup of white sugar
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons garam masala
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon Sriracha or other hot sauce
1 teaspoon soy sauce

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper (don't skip this; this mixture can make a mess of a baking pan).

Beat the egg whites until they're foamy but don't hold a peak. Add everything else except the nuts, and mix together. Now start piling in the nuts, and stir to coat them well. Kids who like getting messy might enjoy using their clean hands to do this part.

Spread the nuts on the parchment-lined baking pan in a single layer. If you have leftover coating in the bowl, toss in more nuts to coat and add them to the pan.

Bake the nuts for about 30 to 40 minutes — start checking them at 25 minutes or so. When you take them out of the oven, slide the parchment and nuts right onto the counter or a rack. Wait a few minutes so that they aren't painfully hot and steal a little nibble. Leave the rest alone until they cool completely, then break them up into pieces.

Store in an airtight container so they stay crisp. I left some sitting out a little too long and they got gooey; 20 minutes in a 200 degree oven crisped them up again.


Cindy Rowland said...

What's the quanity on the nuts? about 6 cups?

Darienne said...

Yes, about 6. I think I used just over that...

Cindy Rowland said...

I think it might be more like 8 cups or until there's no more juicy sugar mixture left floating around. I made these yummy morsels last night but the excess sugar mixture got a little burned.

Cindy Rowland said...

now that i think about it i just used my hands instead of an actual cup measure. we had a lazy new years around here.

Darienne said...

I had two one-pound bags, each just shy of four cups, and used not quite all of them. If there's more good stuff in the bowl, definitely add more nuts and use it all up. I tend to wing it a bit more than I should for recipe-writing... I'm a big fan of lazy. Happy 2011 to you!

Anonymous said...

i left them in the oven for 32 minutes. I set my timer for 35 min since the instructions said 30-40 min. Mine burned and I'm really bummed because I used the pecans my Grandpa hand-shelled for me:( Watch these close and take them out as soon as your nose tells you to. I'm so bummed!

Darienne said...

Oh no! I'm sorry they burned! I usually go closer to 40 minutes in my oven, so it's never been an issue. I'll add a note in the recipe, however. Lucky you to have such a sweet Grandpa. :)


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