Each year, I like to give my co-workers small stocking stuffers, usually involving hand-crafted soap or food. Since we're all overloaded with cookies, cakes, breads and other baked products during Christmas and Hanukkah, I tend to give food that can be used as an ingredient -- higher-end olive oil with a sprig of rosemary, or bags of locally-grown dried beans, for instance. This year, I needed small gifts for a large crowd at a restaurant, so I experimented with roasted nuts -- quick to make, healthy, tasty, easy to transport, and a chance to use my greenmarket maple syrup!
I sifted through recipes online and came up with my version, which received compliments from around the room. Some people finished their bags right on the spot. :)
MAPLE-ROASTED NUTS (PECANS AND ALMONDS)
3 cups pecans halves
1 cup whole almonds
Maple syrup (only the real thing, and preferably from your local greenmarket!)
Walnut oil or vegetable oil (I used walnut oil)
Also needed: parchment paper
Salt if you wish -- but why bother! ;)
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
- Line a jelly-roll pan or large cookie sheet with parchment paper. Parchment paper is a MUST. Do not skip this step or everything will stick to the pan and this will become an ordeal!
- Pour pecans into large bowl. Add 6 T. of maple syrup to the pecans (2 T for each 1 C of nuts). Stir. Taste. If you want more maple flavor, or if the nuts are not well coated, add a bit more maple syrup. My experience varies; sometimes I add another 2 T., sometimes that ratio seems enough. Depends on the size of nuts, qualities of the syrup…
- Drizzle 1-2 teaspoons of walnut oil or vegetable oil and stir -- not too much oil is needed, just a tiny amount.
- Salt: you can experiment adding a dash, but my recipe came out great without it.
- Spread the nuts in one layer, but closely together, on the parchment paper.
- Put pan in oven and roast for 20 minutes, checking/stirring every 5-10 minutes. The time it takes to roast the nuts will vary depending on your oven, the weather, who knows! Just keep checking, but not too often… the idea is to get the nuts browned lightly, but not burned. After 10-15 minutes, I remove the pan entirely and flip the nuts with a spatula, and return to the oven for the rest of the roasting.
- Remove from oven and slip the nuts from the parchment paper to a plate. Cool on plate. When cool, store in sealed container.
- Repeat with the almonds. I make the different nuts in different batches, so I can mix and match my gift bags as needed. I haven't tried roasting them in the same pans, but this may work.
- Cashews and walnuts: I experimented with these nuts but they did not taste exceptional -- too overpowering for the maple to come through.