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random musings of a crazy cat lady

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Sugared and Spiced Nuts

My neighbors Rick and Kate had a party and I needed to bring an appetizer. Rick and Kate could be Martha Stewart's long lost twins. Their parties are pretty impressive, so I wanted to bring something tasty. Besides, I have a certain reputation to uphold amoung my neighbors. (That would be the reputation as a good cook, not the reputation as someone who gets drunk off her ass, which has also happened at a few parties. And let's not even mention the crazy cat lady reputation...)
I love to eat appetizers, but I don't have a go-to recipe. Asparagus wrapped in proscuitto works pretty well, but I brought that last time they had a party. I decided to play on my strengths and bring something sort of desserty that I didn't have to assemble immediately beforehand. I opted to make candied nuts. The added advantage is that I wouldn't have to buy anything since I always have nuts in my freezer. A quick internet search led me to Smitten Kitchen, as usual.
This recipe uses a mix of sugar, salt, cinnamon, and smoked paprika. You could use cayenne pepper instead of the paprika, or add a little of both, which is what I did, or add your own favorite blend of spices. An egg white is beaten with water, then mixed with the nuts. The sugar and spice mix is then mixed in and the nuts are baked. I added a little bit of vodka to give a little more liquid to give an even coating. I figured it would evaporate faster than if I'd used more water or egg white.
It was very easy and I got a nice, fairly even coating. After half an hour in the oven, the coating was nice and dried out and the nuts didn't stick together too badly. I let them cool and then stored them in a Ziplock bag. Once they had cooled, they were very tasty and addictive. I recommend you don't leave them lying around unless you have a fast metabolism or have a lot of people living in your house.
If I were making them again, I'd use less of the sugar coating (maybe 1/2 - 2/3) and decrease the amount of cinnamon and increase the amount of savory spice. I took most of them to the party, where they were all eaten. I saved a few for myself,and they are tempting me more than they should. Anyway, they're a winner and I will probably add them to my Christmas cookie and treat repertoire this year.

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