Yesterday, I tweeted asking what time everybody typically ate Thanksgiving dinner. Surprisingly, an overwhelming number of people told me they started the big meal sometime between noon and 2 pm. That seems so early to me! Do you still eat a smaller dinner at your regular meal time, and treat the Thanksgiving feast as your lunch? Or do you just graze throughout the rest of the day?
I think I’m going to serve our dinner around 4, if for no reason other than the fact that I’d like to take my time in the morning rather than rushing to get the turkey in the oven. Instead of serving the meal early, I plan on setting out some appetizers like these candied nuts for people to snack on in the afternoon.
I made these pecans three times. Actually, they were originally almonds. But my first two attempts were disastrous, and I ran out of almonds. Turns out they are just as delicious, if not more so, as pecans.
My first attempt called for melted butter, cocoa powder and malt powder. No matter how long I baked them, the coating wouldn’t dry out. I ended up with a mass of nuts that were simultaneously gooey and burnt.
For my second attempt, I used much less butter and replaced the malt powder with a collection of spices. These were delicious, but the topping ended up as a light dusting on the nuts and a pile of loose sugar and spices.
Finally, finally I switched out the butter for an egg white for the pecan batch. Success! The sugar caramelized and clustered on the nuts, giving them a crisp and crunchy coating. Sweet and a little spicy, these will make a great appetizer or post-dinner snack.
These pecans make for a stellar appetizer or snack. Pack them into a glass jar and tie up with a ribbon for a beautiful gift for friends and party hosts. If you’d like, you can use a combination of pecans and almonds here, or replace all of the pecans with 4 cups of almonds.
- 1 egg white
- 3 1/2 cups unsalted raw pecans
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- Pinch cayenne pepper
- Pinch ground allspice
- Preheat the oven to 250F and grease a large rimmed baking sheet.
- In a medium mixing bowl, beat the egg white until it is white and frothy with soft peaks. Fold in the pecans, stirring until they are all coated with the egg white.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar, cocoa powder and spices. Add the sugar to the pecans and stir until all of the sugar is sticking to the nuts.
- Spread the pecans onto the baking sheet. Bake at 250F for one hour, stirring every 15 to 20 minutes, until the pecans are dry and the sugar doesn’t come off on your fingers when you touch them.
Make Ahead and Storage
These nuts will store well in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks (if they even last that long!)