Sunday, September 14, 2014

Candied Pecans

I've had the idea of making candied pecans for a while, but I finally tried it out tonight. I used a recipe for Burnt Sugar Almonds, and substituted pecans.

  • 12 oz. raw, whole almonds, about 1 3/4 cups
  • 1/3 cup sugar plus 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 vanilla bean
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  1. First, scrape the inside of the vanilla bean and add it to the 1/3 cup sugar. I put mine through a sieve with the sugar to break up the sticky seeds and mix it well. Set aside.
    Instead of throwing it away, you can always put the rest of the vanilla bean in with your vanilla sugar to boost its aroma.
  2. Add the 3/4 cup sugar, 1/3 cup water and 1 teaspoon cinnamon to the heavy saucepan and set it over medium heat. Stir to mix, then bring it to a boil before adding the almonds.
  3. Add the almonds to the pan after the sugar water comes to a boil. Stir over high heat, to boil the water away.
  4. The sugar will finally dry out and the almonds will take on a grey-brown tinge. Keep stirring, so that the almonds do not burn on the bottom of the pan.
    Turn the heat under the pan to medium or medium-low, to keep the sugar from browning too fast and burning.
  5. Turn burner to medium-low.
    At this stage, the sugar heats up and starts to melt. It is already brown from the cinnamon, so it is hard to see the color change. Just keep stirring, so that the almonds become evenly browned and about half of the sugar is melted and gives the almonds a shiny coat.
  6. A second coating of sugar is added at this point.
    Pour the reserved 1/3 cup sugar over the almonds and stir. Keep stirring, watching the sugar melt and coat the almonds.
    Fresh almonds will start crackling or popping about now. This is residual water in the water expanding or escaping. If the almonds are older, there will not be as much noise.
    Keep stirring until the almonds are fairly shiny, but still a bit lumpy. They will stick together but you will separate them later. When they are shiny, but not burnt (this takes careful watching and decisiveness) remove from heat.
  7. Spread the almonds on a cookie sheet. They are very hot, so only use a spoon. You may also use buttered foil or a buttered cookie sheet, but here I used a non-stick cookie sheet.
    While they are cooling, keep breaking them apart. When they are cool enough, continue breaking them apart with your fingers until they are all separated.
  8. The burnt sugar almonds can be eaten warm, but when they are fully cooled, the candy coating hardens to a nice crunch. Store them in a dry, closed container. They keep for several weeks, if you can refrain from eating them, but almonds will eventually go rancid, so do not keep them too long.
Another substitution I made was making my own vanilla sugar, so instead of using the 1/3 cup sugar with vanilla bean scraped into it, I added 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract to 1/2 cup sugar. The nuts were delicious. I had a slight problem with some of the nuts sticking to the wax paper, I should have transferred the nuts straight to a baking sheet that has been sprayed with non-stick spray, but instead I used a pan lined with wax paper.

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