I’ve made six batches of candied pecans in the past two days, through which this Alton Brown recipe morphed and changed to meet my mothers taste in spicy-yet-sweet pecans. This final version contains a fully toasted nut, a pretty deep collection of spice with a smoky kick to it, and a caramel-y coating that seals it all together. It’s definitely inspired by the above recipe, but following that one resulted in under seasoned pecans that I can’t suggest.
These are a good make ahead gift *cough cough wedding prep* and make the house smell amazing so would be a great appetizer. If you aren’t eating them right away, be sure to pack away into as airtight a container as you can find after they dry – humid weather is your enemy (I mean it always is really, but especially in regards to candy). If you need them to dry faster or they come out a little wetter than you’d like, let them dry out in the oven at about 175 on a sheet try for about 30-45 minutes.
cinnamon and spice candied pecans
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp – 1 tsp cayenne pepper (you will feel the heat from this, so adjust to your taste!)
1 tsp salt
1 lb or 3.4 c pecan halves
5 tbs butter, cut into pieces
1/2 c brown sugar (light or dark)
2 tbs water
- prep all your ingredients before putting anything on the stove – when this recipe starts going it gets fast, and you don’t have time to be cutting your butter! Also lay out a long strip of parchment paper on a stable flat surface, you’ll lay your pecans here to dry
- in a large (like seriously, as big as you have) cast iron skillet over medium heat, begin toasting your nuts. They’ll start to smell like warm pecans and that’s when you know it’s time to move on – but remember, nuts burn fast so as soon as you start to smell it begin the next step, the nuts will keep toasting
- sprinkle in your spice mixture (that you already mixed together in a bowl, remember) and stir through the nuts. The spices will also begin to toast, and you’ll be able to smell it. This is where you have to start moving quickly
- once you can smell the spices, add in your butter pieces and stir through until melted and coating all the pecans
- add in your brown sugar and stir to coat
- the sugar will have begun to melt, but to help it coat the pecans you want to add a splash of water – it will sizzle and bubble, so watch your hands. Add the water slowly, stirring continuously, and let it coat the pecans. You may not need all the water, or you may feel you need a little more.
- let the sugar melt completely and cover the pecans, stirring
- when coated, dump pecans and caramel onto the waiting parchment paper, and spread out with your wooden spoon to separate. I wouldn’t worry too much about a little overlap, and the puddle of spicy-sugar won’t bother anyone either!
- when dry and cool to the touch, package in airtight containers.