Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Cinnamon Nuts

We sampled some warm, cinnamon almonds, from a local candy store, at a community Christmas tree lighting event, this weekend. I don't know if it was the snowy, mountain air, or the festive atmosphere of blocked off streets, for late night shopping, with warming barrels at every corner, and Dickens' carolers mingling about, or just that the crunchy, candy coated nuts were truly magical. But, I instantly had a new holiday favorite, and I had to know how to make some myself.

At home, the next morning I Googled cinnamon nuts, and came up with several different recipes, that all sounded promising.

If you're a regular reader, you know my normal way of dealing with this kind of a fork in the road, is to follow each path, one by one, until I hit on the one I'm looking for.

But, almonds are not exactly inexpensive treats, and I have a limited nut allotment in my holiday budget. So, figuring in the pecans, I had left over from Thanksgiving, and the peanut brittle, I'd still like to make, I settled on two recipes to try, and hoped for the best.

For the first, and fastest of the two, I used my leftover pecans. I halved the recipe from epicurean.com, and used:
  • 1/8 cup evaporated milk
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 and 1/2 cups pecans.

Following the recipe directions, I mixed all the ingredients together in a sauce pan, over medium heat, and stirred, until the sugar was dissolved, and the butter melted. Then, I added the nuts, and continued to stir, until all the syrup was gone from the pan. With such a small amount, it didn't take long at all - only a minute, or so.

Then, I spread them out on wax paper, and let them cool.

They were delicious, but not at all like the candies from the Christmas tree lighting. Instead of candy coated, they were more, or less cinnamon glazed. Kind of like a pecan pie, without the pie. Still very good, and not as sticky, as you might expect, but not quite what I was after.

So, undaunted, I proceeded with the second recipe. This time I used almonds, and a recipe from allrecipes.com, though I modified it according to some of the suggestions in the comments there, ending up with:

  • 1 egg white
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 cups of whole, unsalted, almonds
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • and 1 teaspoon cinnamon.

Again, following the recipe directions, I beat the egg white until frothy, but not stiff...

...stirred in the vanilla, then the nuts, and the rest of the ingredients, tossing them with a spoon, to coat the nuts.

Then, I spread them out in a single layer in a greased, cake pan, and placed them in a 250 degree Fahrenheit oven, for 1 and 1/2 hours, stirring them every 15 minutes.

It was certainly more time consuming, but the smell was wonderful, to say the least, and I was rewarded with a near success. This recipe is good, very good even, bordering on addictive actually, but not quite the magical, "Turkish delight" sort of wonderful, I'm looking for.

I'm sensing the birth of a new holiday quest. Next year the nut budget will have to be enlarged. I might have to think about taking a summer job...I wonder if the candy store will be hiring?

It's great to be a homeschooler.


Lisa said...

I have a really good recipe for spiced nuts you might like. I even used to sell them! I'll dig it out of the archives when I get a chance. :)

An Almost Unschooling Mom said...

Lisa - If you'd like to share it - I'll happily add it to my quest :)

Ticia said...

Share the recipes, maybe I'll make a few tries. This has been on my list to try for a while.

Phyllis said...

This is an interesting idea for my gluten-free kids and my daughter especially loves cinnamon. Thanks for sharing your quest!

Christy Killoran said...

I made sugared pecans for Thanksgiving. The recipe was similar to the second one you posted. Do you ever read the Super Healthy Kids blog? She posted cinnamon almonds today: http://blog.superhealthykids.com/2010/12/amys-cinnamon-almonds/

Jackie Higgins said...

we had some cinnamon coated cashews at The Bass Pro Shop this weekend. They were amazing and I was wondering how to make them. I just want something with that awesome candied coating. If I find one, I like, I'll send the recipe-- since your nut allotment is out ;)

Anonymous said...

im making this recipe right now! and it smells so good but i switched out pecons instead of almonds in your almond recipe and it still seems to be working so no problamo its so simple!