I'm mostly done with my holiday baking. I was sort of low key about it this year, and was also not as into it as usual. I've been cooking/baking a lot, usually with good results, but for some reason my fickle heart was just not into my old favorites, and I was a little careless. The old standbys came out ok but not great. However, the new recipes I tried turned out fabulous.
I did a lot of nuts this year. I decided to do a batch of savory ones for my brother. (Dude, if you're reading this, SURPRISE!) Inspired by a recipe in the New York Times, I prepared some roasted almonds with a ghost chile powder coating. The ghost chile powder is a gift from my brother so I thought I'd return the favor. It contains dried New Mexico chiles, cumin, garlic powder and a hint of ghost chiles. It doesn't seem hot at first but will sneak up on you.
Hot 'n Spicy Almonds
3 cups raw almonds
2 tsp olive oil
salt to taste (I used about 2 tsp kosher salt)
1/2 tsp ghost chile powder (or cayenne)
Heat oven to 350F. In a bowl, mix almonds with olive oil until coated evenly. Add salt and chile powder and mix well. Place nuts on a cookie sheet and roast for about 15-20 minutes, until they smell toasty. Be careful not to breathe in when opening oven since the capsaicin is pretty volatile. Remove from oven and cool.
They have what seems to be a subtle hint of salt and spice, but the heat sneaks up on you. I could've made them a lot hotter for my brother but for a general crowd this is a good heat level. As they said in the NYT article, that little bit of heat keeps you from eating too many. I'll definitely make them again if I have to bring something to a party.
The second new recipe was the browned butter Rice Krispie treats from the Smitten Kitchen cookbook. (You can find a similar recipe here, but the cookbook version doesn't have any added salt.) I made them for the grad students and they were a huge hit. The brown butter and slightly higher coating/cereal ratio made a big difference.