Dorie Greenspan’s Candied Cocktail Nuts

published Nov 3, 2021
Candied Cocktail Nuts Recipe

A savory-sweet mixture of maple syrup and red pepper makes for irresistible candied cocktail nuts.

Serves4

Prep5 minutes

Cook18 minutes to 19 minutes

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Bowl of candied nuts on table. cocktail with a twist in the background. Plates and napkins around
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk; Prop Styling: Andie McMahon

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I rarely disagree with Mary Dodd, who tests all my recipes, but we didn’t see eye to eye on this one. I thought the recipe served eight, but she said it served only one. So we settled on four, although the recipe can be multiplied infinitely. And it can be varied. In this rendition, I season the nuts salty, sweet, hot, and herbaceous — mixing brown sugar, maple syrup, and cinnamon, the sweet stuff, with red pepper for heat and thyme for depth.

Candied Cocktail Nuts Recipe

A savory-sweet mixture of maple syrup and red pepper makes for irresistible candied cocktail nuts.

Prep time 5 minutes

Cook time 18 minutes to 19 minutes

Serves 4

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces

    mixed untoasted nuts (1 1/2 to 2 cups), such as whole almonds, cashews, and walnuts

  • 2 or 3 sprigs fresh thyme

  • 1 tablespoon

    unsalted butter

  • 1 tablespoon

    maple syrup

  • 1 teaspoon

    packed light or dark brown sugar

  • 1 teaspoon

    fleur de sel or flaky salt, or 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more for sprinkling

  • 3/4 teaspoon

    ground cinnamon

  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon piment d’Espelette or cayenne pepper

Instructions

  1. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 350ºF.

  2. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Add 8 ounces nuts and scatter 2 or 3 fresh thyme sprigs over the nuts. Roast for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, place 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, 1 tablespoon maple syrup, 1 teaspoon packed brown sugar, 1 teaspoon fleur de sel or flaky salt (or 1/2 teaspoon fine salt), 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, and 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon piment d’Espelette or cayenne pepper in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until the butter melts and the mixture is smooth. You won’t have much liquid, but it will be all that you need.

  3. Add the warm nuts and thyme to the saucepan and cook, stirring, until they are coated with the mix, 2 to 3 minutes. Return the nuts and thyme to the baking sheet and spread them out — they won’t bake well if they’re in clumps.

  4. Bake for 5 minutes. Stir and turn the nuts and bake until fragrant and deepened in color, 4 to 5 minutes more. Place the baking sheet on a rack and discard the thyme. Sprinkle with more fleur de sel (or fine salt), and let the nuts cool completely (they will initially be sticky but crisp up).

Recipe Notes

Tip: If you decide to make a batch with more than 1 pound of nuts, bake them on two baking sheets.

Substitutions: You can swap the thyme for rosemary (or even a little lavender), or add curry powder, smoked paprika, ras el hanout, or garam masala to the spice blend.

Storage: The nuts can be kept for at least 1 week in a tightly sealed container. If they get sticky, pop them back into a 350ºF oven for 5 minutes.

Excerpted from EVERYDAY DORIE: The Way I Cook © 2018 by Dorie Greenspan. Photography © 2018 by Ellen Silverman. Reproduced by permission of Mariner Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.