Candied Pecans, Two Ways

8 Dec

I can’t believe Thanksgiving flew by and now it’s almost time for Christmas! I love this time of year for the gaily colored lights and for the excuse to give in a little to excess. If you don’t know, I’m a seasonal candy junkie. I buy seasonal editions of peanut M&Ms and candy canes like I buy muskmelon and sweet corn in August. But as much as I love eating all that sugar, sometimes I just want a hint of sweet, a snack with more substance. I remember the delicious Nuts4Nuts carts in NYC and how the little packets of just candied peanuts warmed my hands and belly on the subway platform.

Enter the Candied Pecan. A little fancier for the holidays in pecan form, both of these two recipes yield tasty nuts that your company can enjoy. See what I did there? Both are a little salty, a little sweet, stick to your teeth caramel-y, and totally addictive. They go well with cheese and preserves, wine and beer, are a crowd hit, and make great homemade gifts.  Both equally delicious (aka, addictive), the finish is a matter of personal preference. First up: a mottled pecan with an airy sugar crust, more similar to the Nuts4Nuts carts.

Mottled Candied Pecans
Yield: one cup
one cup pecan halves
one small egg white
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt

Warm oven to 300F.
Beat egg white until frothy.
Add sugar, salt, and all spices, mix well.
Add pecan halves and stir to coat.
Transfer each individual pecan half to baking sheet lined with silpat or parchment paper. (More about this later.)
Bake for 30 minutes, checking periodically at the 20 min mark. (Mine were a touch burnt.)
Let cool completely if you can resist eating the entire batch. Otherwise, enjoy warm. Adapted from Bon Appétit.

The above is all well and good, but honestly, transferring each egg white washed pecan to a baking sheet was a tedious task. I would never make it through six times the quantity of pecans. I liked this smooth gazed version quite a bit but I’d err on the tiniest side of overheating pecans (and storing large batches in the freezer) or the glaze will be tacky and make for sticky fingers. Yeah, I know there’s corn syrup, but it’s not high fructose, and it’s the holidays. /smile I brought these to Thanksgiving and they are pure snackie joy. With all the visitors, we were going through a hefty candy dish a day (overestimate!).

Smooth Criminal Candied Pecans
Yield: one cup / six cups
one cup pecan halves / six cups
2 tablespoons light or dark corn syrup / 3/4 cup
1 tablespoon sugar / 6 tablespoons
1/2 teaspoon salt / 3 teaspoons
1/2 teaspoon fine ground chili pepper / 3 teaspoons
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger / 3 teaspoons
1/2 teaspoon cardamom / 3 teaspoons
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon / 3 teaspoons

Warm oven to 325F.
Mix corn syrup with salt, sugar, and all spices.
Add pecans and stir to coat (it will be really thick).
Transfer orb of pecans and syrup to large baking sheet lined with silpat or parchment paper.
*Bake for 5 minutes. While piping hot, stir to distribute the syrup mixture, spread evenly. Return to oven.
Repeat from * for 15 minutes / 20 minutes (3 stirs / 4 stirs).
Remove from oven and let cool. When cool enough to handle, gently break apart pecan clusters.
Eat right away or store in air tight container in the freezer for up to two weeks. Adapted from Bon Appétit.


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