Sugar and spice
This recipe of sugar and spice nuts comes from a Williams-Sonoma American Christmas cookbook that I bought many years ago while living in Connecticut, USA.
Being winter – and bitterly cold – the American Christmas feasts were much richer and heartier than the Australian Christmas fare I’d grown up with. Homesick, I remember pining for a warm and sunny Christmas Day, with my sister’s beetroot cured gravlax, turkey cooked on a BBQ rotisserie, lots of salads and frozen desserts.
I first made these sugar and spice nuts for an American New Year’s Eve party. Every time I make them, I am reminded of those days in Connecticut and the fun times we had with our American friends.
Edible Christmas offerings
I do prefer to make edible Christmas offerings rather than get caught up in the flurry of last-minute panicked shopping, buying things that people don’t need. However, it’s also such a busy time, wrapping up the end of the school year, attending festive gatherings and preparing for our own family Christmas.
So, I usually make a few things which don’t have hard-to-source ingredients, or take a lot of time to make, and which have a reasonable shelf life. These sugar and spice nuts fit the bill.
The original recipe used only pecans, but I quite like a mixture of nuts. Both pecans and walnuts lend themselves particularly well to this recipe because the delicious spice mixture gets stuck in the nodules and cracks.
Storing nuts to maintain their freshness
It is important to store nuts correctly in order to maintain their freshness. Generally, nuts will stay fresh at room temperature for a few months when stored in an airtight container in a cool dark spot.
However, nuts contain a high amount of unsaturated fat, making them susceptible to oxidation. They’re highly prone to going rancid, which gives nuts that ‘off’ taste and weird smell.
If you have large quantities of nuts, It’s a good idea to store them in a sealed container in the fridge or freezer to prevent their exposure to light and oxygen. This means that nuts will taste less bitter and be more flavourful over time. Stored in the fridge, they’ll last for 4-6 months; in the freezer, for a year.
More roasted nut recipes
I do warn you, though, like the sugar and spice nuts, once you try them warm out of the even, it is very hard to stop!
PS: If you’ve tried these sugar and spice nuts or any other recipe from At Amanda’s Table, please let me know how it turned out in the comments below. And, if you’d like to read more, please subscribe to my monthly newsletter for stories, recipes and tips for simple, nutritious meals.
Sugar and Spice Nuts
- 4 cups raw nuts - walnuts/pecans, cashews, almonds
- 2 tsp canola oil
- 4 tbsp raw sugar
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground allspice
- 1/4 tsp ground cumin
- 1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper
- Preheat the oven to 160℃.
- Line two trays with baking paper and spread the nuts out evenly on the tray. Cook for ten minutes, shaking them about half-way through. They should be lightly browned (and they smell delicious).
- While the nuts are cooking, mix all the spices together with the sugar and the sallt.
- Heat the oil in a large, heavy frypan over medium-high heat until hot, then stir in the nuts. If your frypan is not very big, I'd recommend that you divide the nuts into two, and cook in batches. In this case, start with half the oil and half the spice mixture.
- Over a medium heat, stir in the mixture and stir continuously so as to coat all the nuts. In a couple of minutes, the sugar will start to melt, then caramelise. Be careful not to cook them for too long or they will burn.
- Return the nuts to the lined baking tray, spreading them out evenly to cool, then repeat with the second half if cooking in batches.
- Serve the nuts warm or at room temperature. Store in an airtight container for up to two weeks.