Monday, April 2, 2012

Sugar & Spice Nuts

This is may be my new favorite treat of all time. They do take a little bit of time and attention, but just a little. I made these while seriously multi-tasking - doing laundry, making a wreath, and making candy. It would also be perfect for making on a rainy day where you want to extend very little effort, but not be bored out of your mind and end up with something very tasty!

I was very excited to discover this recipe for crock pot sugared pecans on Pinterest, but since I'm not a huge fan of cinnamon pecans, I decided to give it a shot with my rosemary cashews. When I combined them, I came up with this, and I've got to say, it's a winner.

Now, I know there are some folks out there that don't like the idea of using those slow-cooker liners because they don't like the idea of cooking in plastic because of chemicals, fumes, and whatever other yucky stuff is in there. I can totally respect that, but I think my slow cooker liner contributed to the success of this recipe!

First off, pre-heat the slow cooker on high for about 15 minutes. Then, melt a stick of butter. I had a couple of partial pieces that needed to get used, so those got thrown into the mug I used to melt my butter and I think I ended up with a little bit more. I'm from the Paula Deen school of "no such thing as too much butter" so that didn't bother me a bit. *For all my vegan friends, you could probably use about 1/2 cup of your favorite oil like canola or walnut*

I used 1/4 cup of brown sugar and 1/4 cup of powdered sugar. This didn't give me the same "candy coating" that you would probably get if you used just the powdered sugar, but I like the flavor of the brown sugar so I was willing to give up a little of that. Mix sugar with the nuts and butter in the slow cooker. Cover it and cook on high for about 30 minutes.

After the 30 minutes, stir it up, turn your slow cooker down to low, and leave the top off! Let them cook for 2-3 hours, stirring them occasionally. I checked on mine about every 30 minutes. This is where having the slow cooker liner came in really handy because, as I stirred up the nuts, I could shake them around with the liner and make sure the melted butter and sugar that collected in the bottom could pour over the nuts. It was SO much easier and I avoided burned sugar on the bottom and clumpiness on the nuts that get stuck on the bottom.

After about two and half hours mine were looking great. No, they didn't have a hard, shiny candy coating but there was very little melted butter and sugar left on the bottom of the bag so I decided they were about done. I turned them off, and topped them with rosemary and cayenne and just a little bit of salt (because I used unsalted butter) and gave them a good mix.

I couldn't resist the temptation to take a taste of the warm, sweet, buttery goodness. They were quite fabulous. The hardest part was staying out of them!

If you try them out, let me know what you think.

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