Friday, December 5, 2014

Too many pecans


Our Thanksgiving dessert was pecan pie. I hadn't baked one in several years and had been craving it lately, so I decided to make one this year. I bought a two-pound bag of pecan halves at Costco; it was much less expensive to buy them this way. But I only needed about half a pound for the pie, which meant I had a lot left over. So very, very many pecan halves. I enjoy eating them plain, and they'll be great for quick breads and even pancakes. I also wanted to try making some sort of spiced-nut recipe with some of them, both to eat on Thanksgiving and to keep in the pantry for nibbles after the holiday. I read a lot of different recipes and many of them sounded delicious, but some called for spices I don't have, or fresh herbs I wouldn't be able to use up.

I finally settled on Alton Brown's recipe; it seemed easy and didn't call for lots of ingredients, nor did it require ones I didn't already have in my spice racks. I've been an Alton fan for a long time and have enjoyed every recipe of his that I've tried, so I was eager to try his spiced pecans. They were so good! I really enjoy snacks that are both salty and sweet, like kettle corn or (God help me) Chicago mix. The pecans have this quality, in addition to slight spiciness. I thought the mix of spices was a little surprising; they contain cumin, cayenne pepper, cinnamon and orange peel, which gives them sort of a warm, earthy flavor. They were quick and easy to make; they cooked up in just a few minutes. I will definitely be making them again soon.


Spiced Pecans (from Alton Brown via Food Network)

1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon dried ground orange peel
1 pound pecan halves
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons water


Line a half sheet pan with parchment paper and set aside.

Mix the salt, cumin, cayenne, cinnamon and orange peel together in a small bowl and set aside.

Place the nuts in a 10-inch cast iron skillet and set over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, for 4 to 5 minutes until they just start to brown and smell toasted. Add the butter and stir until it melts. Add the spice mixture and stir to combine. Once combined, add both sugars and water, stirring until the mixture thickens and coats the nuts, approximately 2 to 3 minutes.

Transfer the nuts to the prepared sheet pan and separate them with a fork or spatula. Allow the nuts to cool completely before transferring to an airtight container for storage. Can be stored up to 3 weeks.
 

For my first try with this recipe, I decided to cut all the amounts in half, using only half a pound of pecans. I wasn't sure if we would like them, so I didn't want to make too much right away. They were so good that I made another half-pound of them a few days later! I made them in a large non-stick skillet instead of a cast-iron one. My cast-iron skillet is a bit too small to hold even the half-pound of nuts I made at a time. I also used all light brown sugar because that's what I keep in the pantry. I don't think they suffered. We enjoyed them on Thanksgiving with our little appetizer spread of cheeses and crackers. We had a Stilton with cranberries and a triple-cream brie. The pecans worked really well with both cheeses, but especially the brie, I thought. The sweet-salty-spicy flavors complimented the creaminess and sort of tempered that ammonia-like aftertaste you get sometimes with brie.


I've been storing my spiced pecans in a big Mason jar. They're so pretty. They developed a rich color just from the dry cooking stage, and then the sugar, spices and butter gave them a lovely dark glaze. I think they'd make a good holiday or hostess gift, in a nice jar with fabric and ribbon on the lid, or a pretty label. Make some for yourself too; they're perfect for picking on while you read, or sew, or crochet...or help children with homework...or talk on the phone...or watch crime shows all night. (Pure speculation, of course).

34 comments:

  1. It sounds like a great recipe, my nan visited Florida back in the eighties after my granddad had died. She smuggled back a few pecan nuts in her suitcase. We've been buying them since when we spot them in shops. I like pecan pie it was one of my dads favourites too!

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  2. Thanks for this recipe, Jennifer! This will be a great addition to our holiday treats. Don't you love those Costco bags of nuts? They are cheaper than anywhere else, at least up here in Canada. And the quality seems quite good.

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  3. They sound delicious. I've never tried anything like this but I do love nuts so I may give them a try.

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  4. The pecans sound great, thanks for sharing the recipe. My aunt used to make candied pecans for the Christmas holiday that were really good too. Have a great day. Heather

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  5. They sound yummy Jennifer, thanks for sharing. :)

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  6. Goodness I really fancy some of these x

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  7. Yum! There was a recipe for spices nuts on the back of the pecan bag I had that was amazing, too. It involved whipping an egg white with some sugar and spices, then coating the nuts and baking. I couldn't believe how tasty it was.

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  8. I loved how you described how lovely they taste and are easy to make and so on and then say they will keep for three weeks, as if anything that delicious would be hanging around for three weeks!! I don't think they would last than long in this house, but perhaps you are more circumspect than we are! A great idea for using some of your pecans! xx

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  9. Oh yum, those look delicious! Next year I really want to make all my Xmas gifts so I'll be bookmarking this post. x

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  10. They sound wonderful. I like to make nuts coated in things and put them in a jar in the kitchen. They disappear astonishingly quickly. Your recipe has given me lots of ideas for different things to add. CJ xx

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  11. Delicious !!! I think I'll give them a try... For me, of course ;-), and as you suggested, to give as presents !!

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  12. Yum. Totally yum, and just my sort of thing. Anything salty-sweet gets my vote. Thanks for the recipe. X

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  13. Those nuts look so delish and pretty that I just printed up the recipe, as we also bought that huge bag from Costco! :-) ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

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  14. Those both look and sound delicious. I think I'll be making some of these AFTER the holidays or at least after our trip. So much going on right now. Thank you for the recipe.
    Blessings,
    Betsy

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  15. They sound delicious, I love nuts! I've not seen dried ground orange peel, I wonder if I could replace it with something else

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  16. I've been drooling reading this, they sound divine, and like the perfect gift :) Thankyou for sharing :)
    Jillxo

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  17. They do sound yummy and moreish and they'll make lovely presents when presented in a jar with pretty labels.
    Have a great weekend! x

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  18. They look very yummy, I wonder how they would taste as I binge watch Scandal on Netflix?
    Hugs,
    Meredith

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  19. That combination of flavours sounds so delicious, especially with the cheese. I must try these!

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  20. They sound like a lovely treat, enjoy
    Clare xx

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  21. How wonderful. :) I make something similar during this time of year. It's so delicious. I'm sure you all enjoyed. -Yum!
    And it smells amazing!

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  22. Is it possible to have too many pecans?! I certainly doubt you could have too many of these pecans, they look and sound delicious!

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  23. Oh man do those ever look delish! Thanks for sharing the recipe they will be a great treat for us, our friends and my work buddies!!

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  24. I have never eaten a pecan, but do love all other nuts for sure, they look very tasty.

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  25. No such thing as too many pecans! I They're my favourite kind of nut; it's probably a good thing that they are quite pricey as I could easily eat far more than would be good for me. I love the look of this recipe and will definitely give it a go over the holidays. Not sure you can buy dried orange peel in the UK, maybe I could just add some grated zest instead. Have a fun weekend. x

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  26. I love pecan pie and those spiced pecans sound delicious. Dried orange peel could prove difficult. Have a great weekend.

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  27. Yum! I definitely want to try this recipe, and they would make a perfect gift as you suggested, Jennifer. Thanks so much for posting...look out Costco, here we come :) xx

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  28. Hi Jennifer! Those pecan nuts sound totally yummy!
    I might have to try it once we got hold of the ingredients! Thanks for sharing!
    Ingrid xx
    http://myfunkycrochet.blogspot.be

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  29. I love Pecans too and this recipe sounds yummy. :))

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  30. OMG, these do look and sound so yummy. I can just imagine how they smell and taste too! ...Your Christmas tree looks sooo pretty! xo

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  31. My husband and I loved spiced nuts...I have a lot of recipes for them, but I don't think I've tried this particular recipe. Looks and sounds delicious! I'm almost afraid to make them...we might eat the whole batch in one sitting, lol.

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  32. Oh my. These look scrumptious. Thanks for sharing. Bee xx

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  33. They look delicious and are definitely on my 'to make' list - I have a special notebook!! xx

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