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12.19.2013

From now on

Our friend Ben was here last week. He arrived on Thursday, just in time for lunch, and flew out early Tuesday morning.  Even June misses him, I think.  She got into the habit of standing at the top of the basement stairs - our guest room is down there, a dungeon with red deep-pile carpet and faux wood paneling and an enormous oil furnace that’s as loud as a train - and yelling, Beh! Beh! Beh! until he came upstairs. We all agree that his trip was too short, but he did stay long enough to play a ukulele duet with Brandon, to get a kiss from June, to make me a Boulevardier and a great steak, to help us host a giant holiday party at Delancey and Essex for a chef friend and the staff of her four restaurants, and to eat the majority of a quart of sweet-hot spiced nuts that I made the night before he arrived.




I wasn’t planning to post about these nuts. I figured you’re probably all Christmas-baking-ed out, or maybe you already have a spiced nut recipe that you like, or, I don’t know, who really eats spiced nuts? This admission will no doubt mark me as an empty, soulless person, but I always thought of spiced nuts as the kind of holiday gift you don’t actually eat.  Right? No? You admire the packaging, and you’re touched that someone gave them to you, but you never actually feel moved to eat them?  I only made this recipe because I did my holiday baking this year with my niece Hillary, and she suggested it. Hillary is an excellent cook and eater, and I knew she wouldn’t lead me astray. So we made a double batch, and a week later, my half has been entirely eaten. From now on, I defer to Hillary.




Of course, because I didn’t plan to write about them, I only thought to photograph the nuts once they were almost gone, at a moment when I was eating a fistful of them out of a plastic storage container while standing next to the sink piled with dirty dishes, drinking an afternoon cup of PG Tips. Still, I hope you get the idea: they’re toasty and crunchy, coated with a crackly layer of caramelized sugar and spices and just enough salt to land them on the savory side of the fence, and though they’re intended to be eaten with a cocktail, they go with anything. PG Tips. Plain water. Boozed-up egg nog. Saliva. Between me and Ben - I’m not sure Brandon even got to taste them - we ate so much that I could only give them to a couple of friends before they disappeared.

The recipe comes from the bar at Gramercy Tavern. Hillary lived in New York until recently, and she had eaten them there and remembered how good they were. So she dug up the recipe online, and between my spice drawer and a trip to the store for nuts, we pulled together the ingredients.  The nuts are easy to make: you stir together sugar, salt, cumin, cinnamon, cayenne, ginger, black pepper, and nutmeg, and then you stir that mixture into a bowl of almonds, pecans, and cashews, along with a little simple syrup, a little oil, and the smallest amount of corn syrup. (Not to be confused with high-fructose corn syrup - though if you don’t want to use corn syrup at all, I’ll bet honey would be a fine substitute.) If you taste the spiced nuts in their raw state, you will probably not be pleased: they are much spicier before you bake them than after. (And if anyone can explain why that is so, I would be grateful.) They are spicy(!!!) spiced nuts. But once the spices toast and meld with the sugar and the mixture turns to caramel, the heat fades to a humming warmth, and the sugar and salt strike an amicable balance, and then, boom, they’re gone.


Gramercy Tavern Bar Nuts
Adapted from Mix Shake Stir, by Danny Meyer

This recipe uses two different kinds of salt. I don’t know why, although I’m guessing that the different salts coat the nuts differently? In any case, my kosher salt is Diamond Crystal brand, and that’s important to note, because it’s significantly less salty than Morton brand kosher salt. If you have Morton (or another brand), you’ll want to use much less than the 1 tablespoon this recipe calls for. I’d suggest about 1 ½ teaspoons.

Also, to make simple syrup, combine equal parts sugar and water in a small saucepan, bring to a simmer, stir until the sugar dissolves, and then take it off the heat and allow it to cool.  (To be honest, though, I didn’t allow mine to cool; I made it just before using and only cooled it for a few minutes.)

Last, the original version of this recipe uses volume measurements, and I forgot to convert them to weight measurements when I made it.  I know, I know; I usually give you both types of measurements, and I, myself, prefer weight. I am sad. Apologies.

1 cup raw almonds
3 tablespoons turbinado sugar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 ¼ teaspoons fine sea salt
2 ¼ teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
¾ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 cups pecan halves
1 ¼ cup cashews
¼ cup (2 fluid ounces) simple syrup (see headnote)
1 ½ teaspoons light corn syrup
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil, or another oil with a similarly high smoke point

Preheat the oven to 300˚F.

Spread the almonds on a rimmed baking sheet, and bake until lightly toasted and fragrant, about 10 minutes. Immediately transfer to a plate, and set aside to cool.

While the almonds toast, make the spice mix. Combine the sugar, salts, cumin, cinnamon, cayenne, ginger, black pepper, and nutmeg in a small bowl. Stir to mix.

Reduce the oven temperature to 275˚F.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine the almonds, pecans, and cashews. Toss to mix. Add the simple syrup, corn syrup, and grapeseed oil, and stir to coat the nuts. Add the spice mix, and toss gently until the nuts are evenly coated.  Spread on the prepared baking sheet.  Bake until the spice mixture is caramelized and the nuts are toasted, about 25-40 minutes. To check for doneness, take a few nuts out of the oven and let cool for a few minutes; if done, they should be dry to the touch.

Cool completely; then store in an airtight container. (The original recipe says that the nuts should keep at room temperature for a week, but I’d guess that they’ll keep longer than that.  Two weeks, easy.)

Yield: about 4 cups

48 Comments:

Blogger Janna said...

I got hooked on spiced nuts after making Brandi's spiced nuts with candied bacon. I'll have to give these a try this week.

4:36 AM, December 20, 2013  
Anonymous Victoria said...

These sound great; I recently made Julia Roberts' southern pecans. They are just pecans, butter, salt, and white, and they are delicious so these must be amazing!

I don't know about that drink though - replacing Plymouth Gin in my negroni might be a tough sell. But, thanks to you, I do drink Nardini Amaro. Yum.

Merry and Happy to you all. xoxo

4:37 AM, December 20, 2013  
Blogger Margarita Larrazabal said...

Molly, I would eat spiced nuts if anyone ever gave me some. This particular recipe sounds pretty damn amazing. I love your description of the spiciness as a humming warmth. During my wedding reception, our caterer made delicious cashew nuts with rosemary and secret spices that he would not share. I loved them so much and super bummed that he wouldn't tell me what was in it. Thank you for sharing this... I need to make this.

4:53 AM, December 20, 2013  
Blogger I'm Sara. said...

Your writing is my favorite. I always like to visit your blog (but usually never comment, today I'm being brave). I look forward to your next book coming out! And the nuts sound delicious. :)

5:44 AM, December 20, 2013  
Anonymous DessertForTwo said...

These nuts sound so good. I think every holiday table needs a good spiced nut recipe, but it better be amazing to stand out from the dessert table. I'm sure this one is!

7:58 AM, December 20, 2013  
OpenID girlseeksplace said...

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and your family.

9:50 AM, December 20, 2013  
Anonymous meg said...

I love spiced nuts, but somehow I never think of them. We make them at the restaurant where I work (oddly enough, our chef worked at Gramercy for quite a while), and when I make them I do nibble on them quite a bit as they cool on the speed rack!

9:50 AM, December 20, 2013  
Anonymous Catherine said...

Hi Molly

I am in the UK. Do you think golden syrup would work instead of corn syrup or honey? I need some spiced nuts very soon.

9:53 AM, December 20, 2013  
Blogger Lea Ehret said...

PT Tips! My favorite. The nuts look great, too.

10:35 AM, December 20, 2013  
Blogger Judy said...

Besides the wonderful recipe I will try tonight, I was so pleased to read that you,too, are a PG Tips lover! Enjoy the holidays with your little one.

10:37 AM, December 20, 2013  
Blogger Bob Pedersen said...

I can't tell you how much I love seeing the plastic container in the photo. It's the sort of food photo I'd take, ignoring the fact that I'm not 10% as good at it as you are.

10:46 AM, December 20, 2013  
Anonymous Jody Lee Collins said...

Molly, my daughter the chef--Harbor Lights (who is now pregnant and at home in Tacoma) suggested I read your blog. I'm so very glad I did. I made a batch of 'sugared nuts' from a 20 year old recipe a friend gave me. Those are gone. I was going to try Carla's Spiced Nuts recipe from The Chew, but havent gotten to it. I will maybe give this one a go--and eat them right up.

10:55 AM, December 20, 2013  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh how did you know I was wanting a spiced nut recipe of distinction!! Thank you! This sounds wonderful.

11:13 AM, December 20, 2013  
Blogger deborah said...

I had the same thought about whether spiced nuts were a good host gift after I went a bit wild mid-grocery shop and bought a few bags of nuts as a way to get some holiday treats sorted without having to actually bake a gazillion biscuits. Now I have a whole heap of nuts ready to meet a new recipe - thanks! ;)

11:27 AM, December 20, 2013  
Blogger Molly said...

Happy holidays, all!

Catherine, I think golden syrup would be just fine.

11:27 AM, December 20, 2013  
Anonymous Kacie said...

These sound fantastic. I will most definitely be making these as soon as our roads thaw a bit. I just happen to be drinking my afternoon cup of PG Tips and was so, so happy to see a new blog post pop up here. Thanks for the wonderful recipe Hilary via Molly.

Happy Holidays to you both.

3:05 PM, December 20, 2013  
Blogger janetmow said...

What do you mean people don't eat spiced nuts!! I sure hope they do, because that's what my friends got this year (Dorie Greenspan's recipe). Yours are quite different and also delicious-sounding. Will try to remember them next year. Thanks.

5:25 PM, December 20, 2013  
Blogger Val said...

This is exactly what's needed to round out the holiday festivities this weekend - thank you!

If I were to make a guess about the more-to-less spicy phenomenon, I'd have to bet on the fact that a lot of the flavor components (esp the spicy ones) of spices are volatile and so bake off a bit in the elevated temp of the oven.

postscript - there's the little happy squeak that comes out sometimes when I see someone else enjoying Campari, so thanks for that too

6:22 PM, December 20, 2013  
Blogger Marsha said...

Said, 'I have all that!' Got up off the couch and they're in the oven.

7:06 PM, December 20, 2013  
Anonymous CKipps said...

I have great respect for nuts. I've been making my secret recipe of Sugared Curry Pecans for years. It is my most oft-requested recipe. I share it, but I still call it my secret, because doing so acknowledges just how incredibly tasty they are. Now I have your recipe to try. Can't wait.

8:47 AM, December 21, 2013  
Anonymous jamie levine said...

I used to work at GT and would snack on these constantly. Nancy, the former pastry chef, would sometimes add sesame seeds too, which were so good. Thanks for the memories!

9:48 AM, December 21, 2013  
Blogger michaela said...

yes to the boulevardier.

5:23 PM, December 21, 2013  
Blogger Michele said...

These are wonderful! Thank you for sharing.

11:24 AM, December 22, 2013  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are the cashews salted and roasted or would unsalted work.

3:55 PM, December 22, 2013  
Anonymous Carlinne @Cook with 2 Chicks said...

Spicy nuts! Who could ask for anything more?! These sound amazing.

8:07 AM, December 23, 2013  
Blogger Trading Up said...

I just made them! Although I cooked them on the stove b/c I was lazy. Now off to make the ginger pear cake...thanks for letting us borrow your tradition. It's a hit every year!

11:04 AM, December 23, 2013  
Anonymous Melinda H said...

Oh my goodness these are FANTASTIC! I just whipped up a batch in the middle of my Christmas Eve Dinner preparations and they are so, so good. Thank you so much Molly!

2:29 PM, December 24, 2013  
Anonymous Beth said...

I used to own a fine dining restaurant that had it's own spiced nuts to use in various salads, entrees and desserts. I loved it but I will try yours. :)

4:20 AM, December 25, 2013  
Anonymous Pam said...

We are having an Orangette-Molly inspired holiday season... Two batches of the caramel corn, one batch of coffee-walnut toffee (and a second batch in plan), the cranberry-cherry-ginger chutney and just made these nuts yesterday! I love reading your blog and recipes and am suddenly and increasingly finding you to be my "go-to" source. Thanks for feeding my enthusiasm and soul! Happy holidays to you and yours.

12:23 PM, December 25, 2013  
Blogger Jean | Delightful Repast said...

I do like to make all manner of "bar nuts" because, Lord knows, a germaphobe like me does not/will not/cannot eat from a common bowl at a bar!

8:53 AM, December 26, 2013  
Anonymous Juanita said...

These are soooo good. I will make them again.

9:25 AM, December 26, 2013  
Anonymous Michelle said...

I would of loved to have had spare time to roast some nuts for Christmas (unfortunately mine came from a packet this year) These sound good. With any luck I’ll have them made before the year is out.

6:56 PM, December 27, 2013  
Anonymous Stacey Bender said...

This brings back memories of my Grandpa who used to visit us in Alaska every Christmas. They lived in California and came packed full of parkas, flannel and large quantities of food (at least 10 lbs of See's candy, palettes of fruit and large bags of nuts). Grandpa had a special recipe for the nuts which I haven't thought about in years. Fun post, thanks.

9:38 AM, December 28, 2013  
Anonymous marilyn said...

Thanks for the recipe. I tried the nuts knowing that my son and sons-in-law would especially love them. I was right. Fortunately I bought nuts in bulk because I made them more than once over the past few days of Christmas. They are definitely habit forming and kept disappearing. Everyone wanted the recipe.


2:49 PM, December 28, 2013  
Blogger kener said...

Why, when I love your blog and recipes so much and your photography and your 1st book so much ANDI have your blog on my bkmk tool bar do I not check it???? So glad I haven't the publication of your 2nd bk. Get to that editing!

So love your columns on so many levels for so many reasons. Good to be back.

6:36 PM, December 28, 2013  
Blogger Kate Ramos said...

Yum! These nuts sound addictive and perfect cocktail food. Happy New Year to you, thank you for such wonderful writing!

2:19 PM, December 29, 2013  
Blogger Koffee Kup said...

Molly, I have made a recipe from your book today : the fresh ginger cake and caramelized pears. I love it even though I didn't find the right mollasse here in France. Thank you and have a happy holiday.

3:24 PM, December 29, 2013  
Anonymous Sue said...

I tried these nuts, and LOVE them.

Couple thoughts: Without thinking about it, I grabbed a smallish rimmed baking sheet. Next time, I'll use a large one so that the nuts are just one layer thick. It would make the baking time more even. I know, I know - obvious - but I was tired.

Also, the "will last a week"? - Ha! Only if my husband doesn't find them!

Happy New Year everyone.

7:04 PM, December 29, 2013  
Blogger Lucille said...

My favourite spiced nuts come from Sally Clarke. I make them every year and I never make enough. Brown sugar, walnut oil, garlic, rosemary,salt and cayenne are the principle ingredients. I should know the recipe by heart. I don't have it nearby to check, but will if you'd like it.

8:18 AM, December 30, 2013  
Anonymous Kasey said...

I will gladly take your spicy nuts anytime of year. I hope you guys had a wonderful holiday. Onward, 2014!

3:11 PM, January 03, 2014  
Anonymous Mary said...

Just made these. Fantastic. I did actually use honey instead of corn syrup and it worked great.

9:47 PM, January 04, 2014  
Anonymous Kaitlyn said...

"Make spiced nuts" has been on my to-do list for awhile now, but this is the first recipe I've come across that moved me to action. They're in the oven now; I'm getting impatient for all those sugar crystals to carmelize and do their thing so I can DIG IN!

2:18 PM, January 05, 2014  
Anonymous Stephanie said...

I just pulled a tray out of the oven. I've already snuck a couple and I love the flavours -- just the thing to warm us up on a snowy Edmonton Sunday afternoon -- where it's better to stay inside making spiced nuts because your skin will freeze in 10 minutes if you go outside. I know this recipe will become a winter favourite in our house -- however far north we live. (:

3:38 PM, January 05, 2014  
Anonymous Mellie said...

I just made these using only pecans. Sooooo yummy. I also added a bit of smoked paprika and chipotle powder for a smokey kick.

5:15 PM, January 05, 2014  
Blogger HadleyEG said...

This post isn't about nuts. I just wanted to tell you that I love the beginnings of new months. That's because I come to your blog and select at random the same month from a previous year and read what you were doing, and remember where I was living and with whom I ate whatever recipe I've made from that page. I remember the mood I was in and the way your stories enhanced it or changed it in whatever perfect way. I think about seasons, and traditions, and life's developments. I get all sentimental about the internet, something I claim to be unsentimental about. So thank you for writing and cooking and caring about the small things. It makes a difference.

8:42 PM, January 06, 2014  
Blogger Amy said...

Yum! I made spiced nuts once from Mark Bittman's recipe from How to Cook Everything, and can't remember why I didn't revisit the recipe. (Though I do have a bit of a repressed memory involving me dumping said candied nuts all over the floor and having to toss them because...cat hair. Seriously scarring.) Thank you for the inspiration to try again, this time with a bit of heat added in the mix. We've got some fresh pecans and a few cashews that might be just the ticket for this recipe.

3:15 PM, January 07, 2014  
Blogger Margo said...

in my opinion, spiced nuts are the best part of Christmas goodies! I'm in love with a rosemary/maple/cayenne version from Marisa at Food in Jars.

But I'm going to make this recipe, too.

We decided that the best, most elegant, easiest dessert late in the Christmas season is oranges, spiced nuts, and a fancy chocolate bar. When everyone is sick of Christmas cookies but it's a company meal so there's a need for dessert. . .

6:07 PM, January 11, 2014  
Anonymous Perry@CavaCava said...

We used to have spiced nut. It's one of those finger food that I love eating while reading something..It gives me more energy and I don't know why.

9:23 AM, January 17, 2014  

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