Saturday, December 28, 2013

Handmade Christmas: Sugar & Spice Pecans

Unlike my disastrous experience with Crockpot Almonds, this recipe is tried and true. I've made these spiced pecans at least half a dozen times.They are tasty, crunchy, won't damage your dental work, and they don't take five hours.

Here's the not-so-secret recipe, which I found on Pinterest. As the original blogger suggests, I use these on my strawberry-spinach salad. I have to stop my kids from eating the entire jar of nuts while my back is turned, so I figured it would be a well received gift. ("Really, Mom? I can eat them all myself?")

I will warn you: it makes a large batch, so it isn't cheap. (Which is why I hound my kids not to gorge themselves on them.) 

These are the ingredients for a double batch. This recipe doubles nicely.

1 large egg white
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt (I used sea salt)
1/8 teaspoon cayenne (optional--to add some kick)
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 tablespoon water
4 cups (1 pound) raw pecan halves (I actually added an extra cup this time, and it worked out even better than usual.)

Step-by-step Instructions

Preheat your oven to 300 degrees.
Line a baking sheet with parchment (or even better, a reusable silicone sheet).

Gather your spices. I must confess that I have a fear of spicy foods and so had never actually prepared the recipe using the cayenne. This time, knowing that my sons have stronger palates than I, I did. And you know what? I quite liked it! It gave just a small amount of extra warmth to the cinnamon without sending me to the fridge for a glass of milk.

There are two eggs because I doubled the recipe. For a single batch, use one egg white.
First step: whip the egg white. 

In my ideal world, I would separate a yolk from its white perfectly every time. In the real world, schmidt happens. Now, I always separate each egg individually into a small bowl, then pour it into the mixing bowl. That way, the most I have to throw out is one egg. (This is another one of my "lessons learned the hard way.")

Whip the eggs until frothy. I actually forgot they were whipping and managed to catch them before they turned into meringue.

Step 2: Combine the ingredients.

This is where I really screwed up with the almonds. In the crock-pot almond recipe, you toss the nuts into the meringue before tossing the moistened nuts into the sugar mixture. In this recipe, you put all the sugars and spices in with the whipped eggs.

Not too attractive.

Then you add the nuts.
Do not try to use your mixer to do this. It will mangle the nuts.
(And now I'm thinking of rude jokes. There has to be a punchline here somewhere.)
Step 3: Bake those nuts.

Once the nuts are well and evenly coated, you dump the entire mess into your prepared pans. Try to spread them out evenly.
This batch was made before I acquired my miracle silicone sheet.
Pop that pan into the centre rack of your oven and set the timer for 20 minutes.

When the timer pings, take the pan out and give the nuts a stir.
Lots of goop, but you can see how the nuts will be nicely sugared.
Spread the nuts evenly and pop them back into the oven. Set the timer for another 20 minutes.

When the timer pings, take the pan out and give the nuts a little stir, just to break up any clumps.

Yup. Perfect.

Almost ready for presentation. Just need the gift tags.
I bought little penny-candy jars at Wal-Mart for only $5 each. The nuts were the biggest cost, and the total cost per gift (remember, this was a double batch) was $17. This was a simple, tasty project, and I would definitely do it again.

P.S. Just how delicious are these? I had to wrap the containers in plastic wrap so I wouldn't keep snacking on them while they hid in my room.
Do not open until Christmas!

To read more in this series, visit my Handmade Christmas page.


  1. I am going to make some of these nuts for tomorrow's football game.


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