Last weekend I made these spicy nuts for a get-together in our nano-house, to watch the Oklahoma x Nebraska college football game. A nail-biter of a game, fortunately with a happy ending for us OU fans. Anxiety is a lot easier to take if you have something to munch on… 😉
The pepper coating gives this nuts an unusual look, but once you grab the first one, you will be going back for more, deliciously addictive they are. You can substitute almonds, walnuts, in fact the original recipe called for whole, blanched almonds, but they did not have them at the store, I went with cashews instead. Extremely simple to prepare, with just the right balance of salty, hot, and sweet. Great recipe!
BLACK PEPPER CASHEWS
(adapted from Bon Appetit, 1997)
1/4 cup butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
4 tsp water
2 cups whole cashews
1 Tbs ground black pepper
2 tsp salt
Cover a large baking sheet with aluminum foil and butter the foil to prevent the nuts from sticking. Heat the oven to 350 F.
Melt the butter in a skillet, add the brown sugar and water, mix until the sugar dissolves. Add the cashews, mix them carefully to coat with the butter/sugar, lower the heat and cook, stirring often, for a few minutes, until the coating thickens slightly. Meanwhile, mix the ground pepper and the salt in a small bowl.
Add half of the pepper/salt mixture to the cashews, mix gently. Working quickly, transfer them to the prepared baking sheet, pressing with a spatula to keep them in a single layer. Sprinkle the rest of the black pepper/salt all over, and bake for 10-15 minutes, until golden brown. Let it cool over a rack, then break the nuts apart, storing them in an air-proof container (they won’t last very long, they tend to mysteriously disappear).
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Comments: Folks in the cooking forum Eat.at raved about this recipe, and their enthusiasm was what made me try it. Plus, I tend to like contrasting flavors, so the idea of mixing brown sugar, salt, and pepper immediately perked my interest. I imagine other seasonings could work too: a little hot paprika, ground cumin… definitely worth experimenting.
ONE YEAR AGO: Ossobuco Milanese (one of my favorite dishes!)