I do like cooking, but I’m not much of a baker. I don’t have a ton of luck with cookies, cakes, etc., and I don’t have much patience with beautifully decorating stuff that just gets eaten. But when the holidays roll around, I still feel this weird obligation to prepare and give edible treats to everyone I know.
This recipe is so incredibly easy, makes a huge batch, and everyone loves them. They also last for at least 2 weeks in a well-sealed container, so it’s easy to make a huge batch and hand them out as you see people throughout the holiday season.
This year I made a 3 lb. batch and divided them between two big mason jars (for friends and neighbors) and about 15 small cellophane bags for co-workers.
You also get to make a lot of “nuts” jokes when you’re making them, portioning them, and distributing them. Rife with comedy. Plus the gift of nuts (tee hee hee) is a welcome reprieve from the barrage of cookies and candy that everyone else seems to drag into work with them during this time of year.
Some of you may even remember that these made a cameo last February as favors at our wedding. I used the exact same recipe, but upped the cute factor with the gingham squares on the mason jar lids.
Sugar and Spice Candied Nuts (makes 3 lb.)
Recipe scaled from Smitten Kitchen
- 1 cup dark brown sugar
- 2 cups white sugar
- 3 tsp. salt
- 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
- 3 tsp. cinnamon
- 3 lb. mixed nuts (pecans, almonds, and walnuts – but pecans are the best)
- 3 egg whites (at room temperature)
- 3 tbs. water
Preheat oven to 300°.
Mix sugars, salt, cayenne, and cinnamon in a very large bowl. Set aside.
Beat egg whites and water until frothy but not stiff. Add nuts, and stir to coat evenly. Pour the coated nuts into the large bowl containing the sugar mixture. Toss gently to cover evenly.
Spread evenly across 2 parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake 30 minutes, stirring mid-way through.
Remove the parchment sheets from the hot pans and let cool on the counter. Allow the nuts to cool completely before breaking them up and storing in air-tight containers.