At the start of college football season I was inspired to make spiced nuts to serve at parties and to package for Christmas gifts. It became an every-game-day endeavor to perfect this party snack, and then on Mondays I enlisted my friends at Martha Turner Properties and Relax Station to taste test my weekend experiments. I consulted Cook’s Illustrated and Barefoot Contessa cookbooks for the best methods and created my own signature spice mix. This is my recipe:
Preheat oven to 350* and brush cookie sheet lightly with canola oil.
Spread 2 cups pecan halves on cookie sheet; bake for 4 minutes; rotate cookie sheet on oven rack; bake for another 4 minutes.
While pecans are toasting, prepare sugar glaze and spice mix.
For sugar glaze, melt and whisk together:
2 Tbs water;
1 Tbs butter;
1 tsp brown sugar.
For spice mix, grind together with mortar & pestle or spice grinder:
1 Tbs sugar;
1 1/2 tsp smoked sea salt;
1/4 tsp Alspaugh’s Secret Seasonings*;
1/4 tsp cinnamon;
1/4 tsp rosemary;
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper;
1/8 tsp cumin;
1/8 tsp garlic powder.
Transfer toasted pecans to mixing bowl; pour sugar glaze over pecans and toss to coat evenly; sprinkle spice mix over glazed pecans and toss to coat evenly; spread pecans back on cookie sheet to cool completely.
When pecans are completely cooled, package in cellophane bags and tie with big ribbons in your favorite team’s or Christmas colors.
*Alspaugh’s Secret Seasonings is sold at the local Alspaugh’s ACE Hardware. This is the best hardware store ever because they have an old-fashioned popcorn maker and a “lady’s section” with everything from Vera Bradley baby to traditional bridal registry. I thought to try their house seasoning on my spiced pecans because they set out a shaker to salt your free bag of popcorn. If you don’t have access to this Kingwood regional blend, substitute your favorite BBQ rub.