My father and his wife Donna live in Texas. I don’t get to visit them nearly often enough which is a bad and good thing. Bad because I miss them. Good because I’d weigh a tremendous amount more if I did. Because let me tell you, there’s lots of good stuff to eat in Texas.
It goes without saying that the Tex-Mex is out of this world. Duh. It’s Texas. But good grief I haven’t come across one morsel in that state that wasn’t wonderful. I know that sounds a little outrageous, but dang if it isn’t true. Texans know food.
I haven’t been out to visit them in quite some time which is pretty lousy, but Donna is making sure I don’t miss out on any Texas sized calories. She recently sent me ten pounds (yup, you read that right, ten) of fresh pecans. And not just any pecans. Check this out…
When the box first came in the mail I just wanted to tear it open and start eating them straight out of the bag they were shipped in. Not that I could’ve put much of a dent in it. Ten pounds is a lot of nuts. But I didn’t want to waste them. I wanted to save them and do something special with them over the holiday season.
Every holiday season I put together a box of treats for people close to my heart. Nothing crazy elaborate. Just three or four of my favorite holiday cookies (which always include my Espresso Snaps) and a few other holiday treats that ship well. There’s nothing worse than laboring over holiday baking just to find out that your baked goods arrived smashed to smithereens.
So when I saw the pecans, I knew that I’d have to include them somehow in my holiday treat packages. Which is kind of funny because Donna sent the box of pecans to me and in return I sent them right back to her just in another form. A delicious salty/spicy/sweet form which I’m thinking any self respecting Texan should love. Fingers crossed.
You know when you go into the mall and smell that wonderful scent that can only mean that there’s a nut vendor somewhere close by? That heady cinnamon sugar smell that almost grabs you by the back of the neck and drags you to wherever the heavenly smell originated? That’s what I wanted to create at home.
After doing some quick online research, I came across Smitten Kitchen’s version for that type of nut. And actually, that’s the recipe I used to make my holiday gifts. I usually like to send out my own creations, but I didn’t have time to experiment as I wanted to get the packages out as soon as possible.
But today I spent some time tweaking the recipe. Making little changes here and there based on my palate. Adding more holiday spices that give the nuts a bit more of a seasonal flavor. Oh and I made them a lot spicier too. We like things hot around here.
And the end result was exactly what I was looking for. A sweet and salty nut with the flavors of baking spices. Kind of gingerbready but with a definite kick in the rear from the cayenne. A great way to put a dent in the ten pounds of pecans. Now to figure out what to do with the remaining eight pounds…
- 1 pound of pecans (walnuts would work well too)
- ⅔ cup white granulated sugar
- ⅓ cup brown sugar
- 1½ tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp ginger
- ¾ tsp cayenne pepper
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- ¼ tsp cloves
- ¼ tsp nutmeg
- ¼ tsp fresh ground black pepper (I know this sounds strange, trust me)
- 1 egg white
- 1 tbsp water
- Preheat oven to 300º. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. (DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP) Set aside.
- Mix sugars and spices in a medium sized bowl. Make sure to mix this super well so that all of the spices and sugars are thoroughly combined.
- In a separate bowl, beat the egg white and water until frothy. Add pecans and toss well to coat. Add sugar/spice mixture and continue mixing until nuts are completely coated.
- Pour nuts onto parchment lined cookie sheet in a single layer. Bake at 300º for thirty minutes giving it a stir every so often.
- After thirty minutes remove from oven, allow to cool and store in an airtight container.