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Saturday, December 22, 2012

Sweet and Salty Nuts

Jim has a very big family.  His mom has three sisters who live in the area.  Each of them has children and grandchildren of their own.  Every Christmas Eve, we celebrate in true Italian style - with a lot of family and a lot of fish.  It's two days away and I'm already drooling away thinking of stuffed calamari and clam chowder. But before I get to enjoy the feast, I need to prepare some goodies myself to give away.  I love to prepare a box full of homemade treats for all the aunts, uncles, and cousins - and while I'm at it, I prepare boxes for my neighbors as well.  The cookies and candies I make vary from year to year, but these nuts are always in there.  It's because if I try out something new and it doesn't work out the way I planned, at least I know that these nuts will be delicious.  I have tried this recipe out with pecans, almonds, cashews, and hazelnuts.  I didn't like how the hazelnuts turned out at all.  I won't use them again.  I don't think I'll make the almonds again either, although they were better than the hazelnuts.

Sweet and Salty Nuts
adapted from Elizabeth Karmel of Hill Country

1/3 cup dark-brown sugar
2/3 cup white granulated sugar
1-1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon of smoked paprika
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 lb pecan halves (my favorite), cashews (my second favorite), or any other nut you'd like to try
1 egg white, room temperature
1 tablespoon water

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Mix sugars, salt, paprika, and cinnamon, making sure there are no lumps and set aside. Beat egg white and water until frothy but not stiff. Add nuts, and stir to coat evenly. Sprinkle nuts with sugar mixture, and toss until evenly coated. Spread sugared nuts in a single layer on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring every ten minutes. Remove from oven, and separate nuts as they cool. When completely cool, pour the nuts into a bowl, breaking up any that stick together.

Some almonds...

And some pecans...
 And all together with some cashews...

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