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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Smokey, Sweet, Roasted Nuts

I'm about to go on a road trip, and as everyone knows, road trips require three basic things: maps, music, and snacks. In my opinion, the best snacks are both salty and sweet, a little spicy, almost always crunchy, and easily portable (so that whenever, wherever, you and your snack will be together).

Enter roasted nuts, which are a mighty fine treat in their own right, but when enhanced with smoked paprika, smoked salt, allspice, and a bit of sugar, they are my ideal snack to keep the hangry at bay. Chronic hangry-sufferers, take note. This recipe is adapted from Smitten Kitchen, who in turn adapted from Hill Country in New York. Since I've been putting my smoked Spanish paprika on everything from smashed avocados to scrambled eggs, I figured it would be right at home on these roasted nuts. I also added a bit of smoked salt, because who doesn't love smoked salt? A few freshly-ground allspice berries rounded out all the smokey flavors, and a bit of sugar sent these nuts straight into salty/sweet snack territory. I decreased the amount of sugar a bit (you know, must at least pretend to be healthy sometimes) and used white sugar in addition to piloncillo, an unrefined, whole-cane sugar used in Latin American cooking. You could use brown sugar if you like.

Once you've gathered your sugar and spices, whipped an egg white until slightly frothy, and poured everything over the nuts, you're a mere 30 minutes away (plus a few minutes of cooling time) from crunchy snack heaven.

Now to just finish that playlist...

Smokey and Sweet Roasted Nuts
adapted from Smitten Kitchen

1 pound (about 3 1/2 cups) nuts of choice (I used raw walnuts, cashews, almonds, and hazelnuts)
1/3 cup sugar (white, turbinado, or whatever)
1/4 cup grated piloncillo (can substitute brown sugar)
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt (if you happen to have citrus salt laying around, use that)
1/2 teaspoon Maine Cherry Wood Smoked Salt
3/4 teaspoon Smoked Spanish Paprika
8 allspice berries, freshly ground in a mortar and pestle or spice grinder (about 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice)
1 egg white
1 tablespoon water

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

Put the nuts in a medium-sized mixing bowl and set aside. Mix the sugars, salts, and spices in a small bowl, breaking up any clumps. Set aside.

Whisk the egg white and water together until frothy, but not stiff. Pour over the nuts and stir gently to evenly coat. Add the sugar/spice mixture and stir to coat. Pour the nuts onto the prepared baking sheet, spreading into a flat layer.

Bake for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and stir the nuts around every few minutes to keep them from all clumping together. When completely cooled, store in an airtight container (a big ol' Mason jar works nicely) for up to a week or so (if they last that long).

Happy snacking,

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