I’ve been making these delicious pecans for so long that I can’t believe I’ve never shared them here before. I was waxing poetic about them to a friend, and they asked (likely a bit humorously) if the recipe was on my blog. I had to say it wasn’t. Well, it’s about time to remedy that, and what better time than Christmas, as these tasty nuts are so good on salads and desserts?
The best thing about these nuts is how easy they are to make, yet how impressive they look. It’s the perfect combination of attributes, especially during the holidays when everybody has more than enough things to do. You don’t even have to pay particularly close attention to things. Score!
The most intimidating thing about making these nuts is making the caramel, but I promise you that if you can boil water, you can make caramel. It really is that easy—try it and see! You’ll want to make caramel for every occasion after this.
Pecans in Spiced Caramel
1 cup white sugar
Water, to dissolve
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp vanilla extract
1 1/3 cup whole pecans or 1 cup pecan pieces
Combine the white sugar in a saucepan with just enough water to dissolve it, and set the saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil—do not stir. Continue to boil.
While the sugar water boils, toss the spices, vanilla, and pecans together in a bowl and keep handy. Also, butter a rimmed baking sheet.
After a while all the water will boil off and you will be left with boiling sugar (you can often note a bit of a consistency change here in the way the liquid bubbles). Again, do not stir—agitation or contact with un-dissolved sugar left on the side of the pan can cause the whole mixture to seize, and then you’re ruined. Watch the pot until you have a nice, golden caramel colour (if you’re using a candy thermometer, that’s 330°F). Remove from the heat.
Quickly dump in the nut mixture, stir to coat using a silicone spatula, and dump out on the greased baking sheet, spreading out the mixture as flat as possible with the spatula. The caramel will thicken quite quickly once it is removed from the heat, so be sure to move as quickly as is safe here. Resist the urge to lick or taste anything (it is all upwards of 300°F), and let it all cool.
Once it has cooled, peel the sheet of caramel up off baking sheet and break it into little bite-sized pieces. Serve in salads, over sweet potatoes, or just as tasty little bits of candy. Yum!