|Left: Spiced Pecans with Rum Glaze|
Right: Indian-Spiced Almonds
I've been reading through one of my Christmas presents The New Best Recipe, a bit at a time. There are a lot of good recipes in this book, including several I'm really looking forward to making. I've been drawn in from the very first chapter of the book, which is a section on appetizers. In fact, the recipes in the very first section of that chapter, on Spiced Nuts, really caught my eye right away, and from the first time I opened the book, I knew I'd want to try out one of those recipes.
The recipe I decided to try out first was one for Spiced Pecans with Rum Glaze. The basic idea is pretty straight-forward. You toast some pecan halves, then make a glaze of brown sugar, water, vanilla extract and dark rum. After stirring the nuts into the saucepan with the glaze, you toss the nuts with a mix of spices typical of Caribbean cooking (allspice, cloves and cinnamon, plus a bit more sugar and some kosher salt). After allowing the nuts to cool, you've got a really tasty snack or appetizer.
The Spiced Pecans turned out great... really flavorful, so much so that after eating a couple, it's really tempting to just keep going and chow through a whole batch in one sitting. They were so good, in fact, that making them made me want to try my hand at making my own spiced nut recipe.
The New Best Recipe also includes a recipe for Indian-Spiced Cashews and Pistachios with Currants. That recipe looked pretty good, but I could see some things I wanted to do differently, including a slightly different spice mix, and I also wanted to work with almonds.
I'm happy to report that my own recipe, for Indian-Spiced Almonds, also turned out great. Juli and I like them both a lot. Comparing the two, Juli says "I find the pecans more pleasant, but the curry almonds are more addictive." Personally, I like them both equally.
I can definitely recommend the one nut recipe I've made from The New Best Recipe, and the other two included in that book also look excellent, but if you're interested in a spiced nut snack, I hope you'll try out my recipe as well.
yield = 2 cups
2 cups whole natural almonds
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon sweet curry powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground green cardamom seeds
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and spread the almonds evenly on the baking sheet. Toast for 10 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and cool on a wire rack.
While the almonds are toasting, stir the sugar, salt, curry powder, cumin, coriander and cardamom seeds in a medium-sized bowl. Set aside.
Bring the water, brown sugar and butter to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, whisking constantly. Stir in the almonds and continue to cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the nuts are coated and almost all the liquid has evaporated.
Transfer the glazed almonds to the bowl with the spice mixture. Toss well to coat, then return the glazed and spiced almonds to the baking sheet to cool.
You can use pre-ground cardamom for this recipe, but you'll get a richer and fresher flavor if you grind fresh cardamom seeds. Simply open up some green cardamom pods, remove the small, black seeds and grind them in a mortar. Three to four green cardamom pods will give you enough seeds for this recipe.