Sunday, July 22, 2012

Irresistibly Deadly Addictive Nuts Cocktail

Once upon a time, when I was back in France working for a large international pharmaceutical company (that was more than 10 years ago!), I was traveling a lot for my job. Since the company policy was to put its employees in business class for any travel longer than 3 hours, I had the opportunity to fly business class a few times when coming to the US. Back then (we are talking pre-9/11), airlines were still pampering their customers a little bit. Nothing like what our parents could have experienced back in the 1980s or even early 1990s... but still at least you felt that they did care about you. Note that I don't fly business class anymore.. so I would not be able to compare but I have experienced the difference in coach class (as I am sure some of you have too!). Sans commentaire!
On one of my business trips to the US, I was served an unforgettable nuts cocktail. Not the usual boring-too-salty peanuts... no, a real little dish of warm mix of fancy nuts! And since then, being nuts about nuts, I have been trying to find a recipe for nuts cocktail. I tried the one where you soak nuts in egg whites. I have tried some of the store-brand pre-mix... but none came close to the ones I had on that flight...   Then again, I am sure that if I were to taste that same nuts cocktail again today, I would not find them that good! This is why it's always dangerous to want to reproduce something you had once a long time ago and tasted soooo good to you! (Even more true when it comes to a dish that your husband grew up with (ie, that his mother or grand-mother made): unless HE makes it,  you are NEVER going to win!! )

I came up with this specific recipe because, one day, I had decided to purchase some caramelized pecans at a store to make a "healthy basket of American goodies" to offer to Europeans (because, yes, to me caramelized pecans are fully associated with American food)... to realize when reading the label (yes, I ALWAYS read the label!), that they were coming from....... Spain! How disappointing!!! Especially, when you know that the US produce more than 75% of the world Pecans (mostly in the Southern states of the US where there is even such an aread called "Pecans belt"!!) I obviously did not purchase these pecans for my friends. It just gave me the idea to try to make my own instead!
Since I don't like things too sweet and that I had this nostalgy of that 2000-era nuts cocktail in mind, I decided to do something both sweet & savory. The result?
Let me warn you (and the people who have had the opportunity to taste them would confirm), these nuts are deadly addictive! If I make a batch for my family or guests, I know that they won't last long! Always a good sign when it comes to cooking, no?
Now, if I could only find a good salty-cocktail mix recipe!! Bon Appétit!

- Raw unsalted nuts: I generally use a mix of walnuts, pecans, almonds and peanuts. You could use hazelnuts, brazilian and sunflower seeds as well. However, I never liked when I used cashews in that mix.
- Cayenne pepper (to taste)
- A pinch or two of salt
- Maple syrup : enough to coat the nuts
- A sprig of rosemary, scissored

  • Pre-heat oven to 350F (175C)
  • Take a baking pan and lay out all the nuts on the pan. If the nuts are on top of each other, you will have to make a second batch.
  • Transfer the nuts in a bowl, add the pepper, salt, rosemary. 
  • Pour enough maple syrup to have all the nuts nicely coated when you mix them (including in the creases). You don't want them to soak in maple syrup, though!
  • Lay the nuts on the baking pan and put in the oven.
  • Cook for 15 mns, stirring every 5 minutes. You should start to see the syrup cristallized but the nuts (especially the pecans) should not be burnt.
  • Cool on a flat non-sticky surface (I use a silpat) before eating. 

No comments:

Post a Comment