This has been a week filled with sadness and tears, and I am finding that time in my kitchen has been soothing and a bit therapeutic. To focus on creating something with my hands is restorative and quiets my mind. Cooking and baking also allows me to share with others, to nurture and express care in a tangible way. We could all use a little extra tenderness right now.
Cookies are, of course, delectable to give and receive. Sometimes, though, a not-so-sweet option helps to balance out the indulgent baked treats. Nuts are my go-to savory snack. A handful of roasted almonds will often get me through the afternoon until dinner. Adding some spice and glaze makes them even more appealing (and harder to stop at a handful). While preparing for the Thanksgiving holiday, I began tossing some ideas for nuts around and have arrived at a recipe I really like.
I began with maple syrup (oh, how I love maple syrup, it is so comforting). I mixed some syrup with ground ginger, cayenne pepper, freshly ground black pepper and flaky sea salt. I chose a mix of almonds, peanuts, pecans and walnuts but you can use any variety of nuts you prefer. I poured the nuts into the syrup, stirred to coat them well and spread them on a baking sheet to roast in the oven. The house filled with the warm, heavenly scents of toasty nuts, maple and ginger. The nuts emerged from the oven a glossy, rich brown and, after cooling a bit, were soon being nibbled on - crunchy, with a spicy kick and a hint of sweetness.
Fill a jar or little bag with some nuts and tie a ribbon around it. They are a lovely “I’m thinking of you” to share with someone as a thoughtful gesture or holiday gift. Small acts of kindness bring us together.
Maple Roasted Nuts
Makes 5 cups
5 cups of raw nuts (I used 1 cup pecans, 1 cup peanuts, 1 cup walnuts and 2 cups almonds)
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 1/2 teaspoons flaky sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Combine the nuts in a large mixing bowl. In a glass measuring cup, stir together the maple syrup and remaining ingredients. Pour it over the nuts. Using a couple of spoons (or your hands) gently toss the nuts to coat them evenly. Pour the nuts out onto the prepared baking sheet (scrape the bowl to get all the sticky deliciousness) and spread in a single layer.
Bake for 15 minutes, stir the nuts on the baking sheet around a bit, and bake for another 10 minutes. The nuts should be a deep golden brown and caramelized. Remove from the oven and let cool. Store the nuts in an airtight container at room temperature.