On the tenth day of Christmas, there were nuts. No, I’m not talking about Great Aunt Bethany with the jello mold that may or may not contain cat food (if you don’t get that reference you need to watch more 80’s Christmas movies). I’m referring to Sweet and Spicy Pecans: the nuts of the pecan variety, lightly coated in a shiny glaze and spiced to perfection with paprika, cumin, cayenne, sugar, and ginger.
This is a recipe that my mother saved from the August 1991 issue of Metropolitan Home magazine. They are spicy and slightly sweet, very different from sugary glazed pecans (which are delicious, as well). These are so easy to whip up and last for over a week, so they’re a great do-ahead option. Just be sure to watch them as they roast; nuts are notoriously quick to burn.
If you don’t have all of these spices in your cabinet, you can definitely substitute the ones that you do have. Metropolitan Home specifies Pasila chili powder, but I’ve had great results with substituting regular chili powder or even mixing paprika and cayenne, as the recipe suggests.
Don’t have ginger? Try allspice. Out of ground cloves? Substitute half cinnamon and half nutmeg. The beauty of this recipe is that you really can’t go wrong here. For the best results, toss your spices after three years or so. You want these flavors to be as vibrant as possible.
Sweet and Spicy Pecans
These sweet and spicy pecans are perfect for munching with cocktails.
- 1 1/2 teaspoons chile powder (preferably Pasila) OR 1/4 tsp paprika plus 1/4 tsp cayenne
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 ground coriander seed
- 1/4 teaspoon cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne omit if using substitution above
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 egg white
- 3 cups pecans halves
Preheat oven to 275F. Lightly butter a jelly roll pan.
In a small bowl, combine spices and sugar.
Beat egg white until light and frothy, add pecans and stir until covered.
Stir in spices, coating nuts evenly.
Spread pecans on the pan in a single layer and bake 15-20 min., then turn and separate them.
Return to oven and roast about 20 min. more or until they are golden inside.
Cool, then store in an airtight jar or freezer.
Source: Metropolitan Home Magazine August 1991
If you’re so inclined, you can toss these into little cellophane bags. Tied up with a ribbon, they make an easy-yet-impressive hostess gift. Keep a bowl of them by the tree for snacking while gift wrapping. You can thank me later. The best thing about these spiced nuts is how long they last. In an airtight container, you could keep refilling your bowl the whole holiday season!
2 thoughts on “Sweet and Spicy Pecans for Christmas”
You are absolutely right. Nuanced but not over-the-top spicy!
I love the way these nuts only give you a little heat as a finish. You get to savor the natural sweetness and crunch of the pecans and when that’s satisfyingly over you get a kick of heat. They are my favorite “messed with” nuts.
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