Sweet and Spicy Nuts (Warning: May Be Addictive)

Delicious (and addictive!) at any time of year, these easy-to-make nuts are especially suited to the entertaining and gift-giving of the upcoming holiday season. I have passed along this recipe countless times; I’m sure anyone who serves them gets requests for the recipe, so be prepared. (I sometimes think I should just print out copies to put next to the serving dish.)

A few tips, from one who has tons of experience with these:

1. Plan to at least double the recipe. I often quadruple it. Make sure the nuts are spread out in a single layer on the baking sheet. You might need to use multiple sheets or roast them in batches.

2. If you use parchment paper for the second stage, you can slide the whole sheet of paper off the baking tray and onto a cooling rack. This is especially handy if you are making a large quantity. Also, clean-up is a lot easier.

3. Why make such a large quantity? They make great hostess gifts (fill up a mason jar and decorate with a bow — and attach the recipe!), they are a hit with almost everybody (sorry, allergy sufferers), and leftovers, if there are any, can be kept in the freezer (they thaw quickly for a last-minute nibbly).

4. Use mostly pecans: they hold onto the yummy coating the best. Add some almonds, hazelnuts and/or macadamias for variety. And the rosemary must be fresh, not dried.

The Recipe:

2 cups mixed raw nuts
2 Tbsp. butter, melted
2 Tbsp. minced fresh rosemary
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, or to taste
1 tsp. sea salt
2 Tbsp. brown sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Toast the nuts on a sheet pan for 5 minutes.

Combine the remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Add the warm nuts and toss to coat evenly. Line the sheet pan with parchment paper, spread the nuts on it, and toast for another 8 to 10 minutes until they are nicely browned, stirring once or twice. Cool before serving.

Image(s): James Pattyn