I don’t like nuts.
Okay. That’s a lie.
I don’t usually like nuts.
If given the choice between a baked good with nuts or.. nothing, I’d go dessert-less. Even if I was craving chocolate. I just don’t like the crunch in my baked goods.
Sure, I can scarf down a bowl of cashews with the best of them. (By the way, my dad’s cashews and toasted/roasted/who-knows-what-he-does garlic? Wowza.) But other than cashews, I don’t really eat nuts.
Oh I also pad thai, including the nuts if they are present. I basically lick the bowl clean. YUM!
Anyway. Yeah. Not so much with the nuts.
But me and these nuts? We’re best friends.
How did that happen?!
Well if you really want the whole story read the whole thing. For the abridged version, only read what is in the brackets below (I stole this method from the missals in church. I hope that’s okay.)
I originally wanted to make this poppy seed lemon cake. I’ve been staring at it since Deb posted it in January. Doesn’t it look divine? Then with the springtime weather and my lemon/orange/all-things-that-smell-like-cleaning-products kick, I had to, HAD TO make it. And Deb gave suggestions for what to do with the 8 egg whites I’d have left over! Win! Because I didn’t really feel like making an angel food cake. It’s never really been my thing. Also, two cakes? For one person? That just seems overboard. So I looked over the recipes and settled on three, THREE uses for my to-be-yolkless egg whites including these here nuts.
The sole bundt pan within my apartment was filled with a sour cream coffee cake my roommate had made for work last week.
*shakes fist and glares at cake*
What was I to do? It’s her bundt pan in the first place. (Why the heck don’t I own one?!) So, alas, no poppy seed lemon cake was to be made that day. I went grocery shopping for the week and didn’t buy poppy seeds or lemons Okay I bought lemons. I’m obsessed. But no poppy seeds! No hazelnut brown butter cake. No amaretti cookies. No nuts.
Nuts. (Get it?)
But when I got home from the grocery store and finished making dinner I just didn’t feel right. I had to bake something. But what? I looked around for the usual suspects. Chocolate chips? For cookies, muffins, or brownies even? Plain sugar cookies then? Maybe something with the lemons you bought for no predetermined purpose? Pecans? PECANS?! I HAVE PECANS?! I saw a recipe for pecans! Pecans I will make. Pecans I will shake. Pecans I will bake.
And so I did.
And now we’re best friends. One, because they gave me something to bake when I thought all hope was lost. And two, because they literally haven’t left my side since I made them. I carry them in baggies with me. (What? I needs snacks!)
[Abridged: The whole story was kind of pointless. These nuts are yum.]
Sugar-and-Spice Candied Nuts
Adapted from smitten kitchen, originally from Elizabeth Karmel of Hill Country
1/3 c dark brown sugar
2/3 c granulated sugar
1 heaping tsp kosher salt
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 lb walnut or pecan halves or whole peeled hazelnuts [I used pecans. Heaven.]
1 egg white, room temperature
1 tbsp water
Preheat oven to 300F.
Sift together sugars, salt, cayenne, and cinnamon and mix, making sure there are no lumps; set aside. Beat egg white and water until frothy but not stiff. Add nuts, and stir to coat evenly. Toss nuts with sugar mixture until evenly coated. Spread sugared nuts in a single layer on a cookie sheet fitted with parchment paper. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove from oven, and separate nuts as they cool. When completely cool, pour the nuts into a bowl, breaking up any that stick together. [Or keep them in chunks for one-handed munching if, say, you're using a mouse with the other hand.]