Seasoned cocktail nuts is a delicious treat that I can hardly refuse. There's something special about them that makes me think of parties. A few months ago, I whipped up a batch of David Lebovitz's Holiday Snack Mix and I was hooked. It's almost unfair (to my waistline) that something so easy to make can be so addictive! I'm a sharing person by nature so of course I made four more batches immediately and took them with me to Hong Kong as gifts for friends and family.
It was most endearing that Dorie encouraged the readers to use her recipe as a starting point and customize the seasoning to their own taste. I'm sure her blend of sugar, salt, chili powder, cinnamon, and cayenne is delicious but I have something else in mind. I just bought a new tin of ras el hanout and I could not wait to use it. I use ras el hanout regularly to make Clotilde's delicious Warm Hokkaido Squash and White Bean Salad. This Moroccan spice blend is heady with aroma of cardamom, clove, cinnamon, paprika, coriander, cumin, tumeric, nutmeg, rose petals, among many others. The label boasted a secret blend of 23 different spices! I replaced the chili powder and cayenne with ras el hanout but kept the cinnamon. To emphasize the Moroccan flavour, I added a tablespoon of pomegranate molasses for a sweet/tart kick and increased the amount of nuts to a total of 2 1/2 cups to compensate for the extra liquid. I used 1 cup of almonds, 1 cup of cashews, and 1/2 cup of shelled pistachio. The crunchy caramelized coating for these cocktail nuts was an explosion of flavour and I really enjoyed the result. What a beautiful deep mahogany colour!
What I did not enjoy was the process and clean up. Powdery spices need some sort of wet ingredient to adhere to the nuts. David's recipe called for melted butter which added a delicious buttery taste to the mix and the fat helped to roast the nuts. Another popular approach is using egg whites as seen in Dorie's recipe. Although Dorie took great care to explain the exclusion of excess egg whites and to transfer the nuts to a clean baking sheet once out of the oven, I did not expect the caramelized mess the nuts left behind in the original baking sheet. I had to carefully pry the nuts from the pan without burning my fingers nor breaking them apart. Was I glad that I used a silicone liner instead of parchment paper. Since the mixture was so wet out of the oven, I was doubtful the nuts and coating would firm up. Fortunately, they did cool down to a crunchy caramel shell but it was two sets of pan that I had to wash. As much as I like these cocktail nuts, I am not sure the clean up is worth the trouble for repeat appearances in my kitchen.
Check out what other members made this week at French Fridays With Dorie!