After sitting out last month, I jumped back in for the April round of Secret Baker. My blogging buddy Kayte, of Grandma's Kitchen Table, was our host this month. As the host, you get to choose the theme and Kayte went with snack foods, which I thought was a really fun idea! Oddly, the first thing that came to my mind when I thought about the options for snack foods was spiced nuts. It's odd because I don't like nuts and I definitely don't eat them as snack foods. Still, I thought they'd be be well received by my bakee so I got to work on looking for a recipe....and there were a TON of them! Who knew there were so many ways to make a relatively simple snack?
Despite not eating nuts myself, I actually keep quite a few types on hand for baking. As I've mentioned before, I give away most of what I bake and the folks who receive my treats do like nuts so I often include them when a recipe calls for them. As I searched my freezer for options, I found a lot of pecans so that helped me narrow down my search for spiced nut recipes. I also knew I wanted to use a recipe from Cook's Illustrated because I've found them quite reliable and since I wasn't going to taste the nuts, I needed a recipe I could feel confident about. With those criteria in mind, I quickly selected this recipe for warm spiced pecans with rum glaze. The pecans are first toasted, then coated with a glaze that consists of dark rum, butter, brown sugar and vanilla and finally tossed in the spice mixture, which includes sugar, salt, cinnamon, cloves and allspice. They came together in no time and smelled amazing! The glaze is fairly light and allowed the spices to stick, without being too sticky or messy.
As luck would have it, my mom stopped by after I made these spiced pecans and before I mailed the package out to my bakee so I asked her to give them a try. She gave them a thumbs-up, saying the spices (especially the cloves) were prominent at first but mellowed as she bit into the pecan, allowing all of the flavors to meld. Hopefully the recipient will enjoy them too!
Warm Spiced Pecans with Rum Glaze
from Cook's Illustrated
2 cups raw pecan halves (8 ounces)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1 tablespoon dark rum
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon dark brown sugar (light would be fine too)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and spread pecans in an even layer. Toast the pecans for about 8 minutes, or until they are fragrant, rotating the pan halfway through. Transfer the baking sheet to a cooling rack.
While the pecans are toasting, combine the sugar, salt, cinnamon, cloves, and allspice in a medium bowl to make the spice mix. Set aside.
To make the glaze, bring the rum, vanilla, brown sugar and butter to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, whisking constantly. Add the toasted pecans to the pan and stir with a wooden spoon to coat the pecans with the glaze. Continue cooking until almost all of the liquid has evaporated, about 1 1/2 minutes.
Add the glazed pecans to the spice mixture. Toss to coat well. Transfer the pecans back to the parchment-lined baking sheet to cool. The nuts can be stored in an airtight container for up to 5 days.