We’re going to rip through this post, because I have an end goal – which might be the easiest fancy-pants, company-impressive salad on the planet, but we can’t get there unless we have candied pecans – homemade or otherwise.
And since these also make a delightful Christmas treat for hostesses, teachers, and helpers of all sorts, we’re making our own and wrapping them up in cute little jam jars with silvery tied ribbons after we’ve stashed a good measure for our salad selves.
Here’s the skinny: nuts, egg white, sugars, spice, a quick little bake in the oven, and tender loving separation of each little nut. Boom.
Coming next: what I like to call “Easy Button” Fancy Pants Salad. It’ll have your dinner guests raving. I know. Because I made it, and mine did.
This is a recipe adapted from Deb at Smitten Kitchen (so it's awesome, of course!) back in 2008. She, in turn, adapted it from Elizabeth Karmel of Hill Country. It's a good, solid, delightful recipe, and I only took the liberty of changing a few small things.
These pecans are a perfect addition to salads, for snacking, or for a gourmet little gift for someone special.
5 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed
2/3 cup white granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon (heaping) fresh ground black pepper (a fine grind is better here)
1/8 teaspoon (heaping) cayenne pepper
4 cups raw pecan halves (approximately 1 lb.)
1 egg white, room temperature
1 tablespoon water
Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silpat. Set aside.
Mix sugars and spices in a small bowl, making sure there are no lumps. Set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together the egg white and water until frothy but not stiff.
Add nuts to egg white and toss to coat evenly.
Add sugar and spice mixture to nuts, and toss until evenly coated.
Spread sugared nuts on prepared cookie sheets in a single layer.
Bake 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. (I forgot to stir them last time and they turned out great anyway, so you probably don't need to fret this step).
Remove from the oven and separate the nuts as they cool. Once completely cool, you can store the nuts, tightly covered, in a bowl or tupperware. Separate any that are stuck together before you store them - and I store mine in the fridge to keep them a little more firm until I'm ready to use them, however refrigeration isn't required for storage.
Adapted by Sara|Home is Where The Cookies Are, from Smittenkitchen, who adapted from Elizabeth Karmel of Hill Country.