Crunchy Candied Nuts
There are a lot of candied nut recipes out there in the world. And many of them require a coating of egg whites with the flavorings, resulting in a thick sugary (and sometimes spiced) crust. I like the flavor of the nuts to shine and prefer less added sugar and salt. So for these sweet and salty nuts I’ve followed Aki Kamozawa & H. Alexander Talbot’s method in their book “Maximum Flavor.” The two have carved out a fascinating career, simultaneously consulting to restaurants, writing, and owning a doughnut shop or two.
Simmer & Roast
This simple recipe starts by simmering nuts in a sugar and water solution and then roasting in the oven. Halfway through, you stir in coarse sugar and a flakey salt of your choice. I like Maldon salt. Can you use regular sugar and salt for these candied nuts? Yes, they will still be delicious, but you won’t have quite as much texture. Your nuts will make up for that though, so no worries. The only note of caution is to watch the toasting stage carefully. Some nuts brown much quicker than others. Cashews and pistachios, for example, will be ready before peanuts, walnuts, or pecans.
Spice it Up
If you would like to add spices to your sweet and salty nuts, follow along with my recipe for Sweet and Spicy Nuts and tailor it to your taste. Swing Chinese and add Sichuan chili powder and a pinch of five-spice powder. Go Mexican and mix in some ground chipotle chili powder, and maybe a bit of Mexican cinnamon. The combinations are limitless. Have fun with your food!
Easy Sweet and Salty Nuts
- 2 cups nuts
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 1/4 cups water
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon coarse salt ~ Maldon for example, regular salt is fine
- 1 tablespoon coarse sugar ~ Demerara or turbinado sugar; see Notes below
- Gather your ingredients. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a medium saucepan add the nuts, water, sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. On medium-high heat, bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer, and cook for 5 minutes.
- Strain the nuts and spread evenly out on the lined baking sheet and roast. At the 7 minute mark, sprinkle coarse sugar and salt evenly over the nuts and turn the baking sheet around, so that nuts will brown uniformly.
- Toast for another 4 to 8 minutes, or longer, until medium brown. The nuts will get crunchier as they cool.
- Cool completely and store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
- This recipe will work with nuts that have already been roasted. The only change you need to make is to skip the first 7-minute roasting and sprinkle with the salt and sugar at the beginning. Depending on the nuts you use, the total roasting time will be 7 to 15 minutes.
- If you don’t have coarse salt or sugar for your sweet and salty nuts, use what you have for these sweet and salty nuts.
- A pinch of Kashmiri ground red chili (or cayenne) would not go amiss here. Add with the sugar and salt halfway through roasting the nuts.