Because I can't resist anything that combines sweet, salty and spicy flavors, I found I could not keep my hands off these amazing sugar and spice pecans when I first had them at a friend's house last year. I immediately got the recipe and made several batches as gifts for teachers and friends.
Nearly everyone who received them emailed me for the recipe and I knew I had a hit on my hands.
That, and the fact that my husband, Chris, pleaded with me to get the extras out of the house lest we both need to order new pants with bigger waistbands.
This year, I'm making them again for teachers and staff at my son's school. I thought it might be a nice recipe to share as a guest post here since some of you might be looking for a simple way to give some homemade holiday goodness.
Here's what you'll need:
1 egg white
1 Tbsp water
1 tsp vanilla
4-6 cups of pecan halves (this recipe is very forgiving of the amount)
½ cup granulated sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp ground cloves
¼ tsp cayenne pepper (More or less, to taste)
1/8 tsp nutmeg (optional)
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees
Lightly beat egg white with water and vanilla. Add pecan halves to egg white mixture and stir until pecans are coated with the egg white mixture.
Combine the sugar, salt, cinnamon, cloves, cayenne pepper and nutmeg (if using) and add to the pecan mixture. Mix well. At this point, the pecans should be nicely coated with a sticky, sugary goo, but not swimming in goo.
Cover two baking sheets with foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray. Now comes the tedious part (because after all, holiday baking has to be just a little bit fussy, right?). Transfer the pecans individually, making sure that the pecans are separated and dispersed evenly on the baking sheet. It's best to just do this with your fingers and get a little messy. Listen to a podcast and hold a nice glass of wine with your non-dominant hand.
Bake for 25 minutes or until pecans are crisp and bubbly, browned and toasty-smelling. Let them cool, then transfer them from the foil and let them cool for a few more minutes on a flat surface.
I've been packing them in festive tissue and holiday-themed Chinese take-out boxes as gifts. They make a lovely addition to a cheese plate and will make a salad a little more dramatic. My favorite way to eat them, though, is crumbled over ice cream with chocolate sauce.
And, yes, my new pants are on the way.
By day, Christa is a consultant and writer in the area of training and learning in the workplace. She blogs at Hyperlexicon, writing about parenting on the spectrum, hyperlexia and life with an atypical kid. She enjoys cooking and trusts that someday her six-year-old son will eat more than four things.