chipotle & rosemary roasted nuts
For the past three years, my friend Emily and I have gathered at each other’s houses in December for a blitz of holiday baking: about six hours of sugar stirring, dough-wrangling, chocolate spreading and general confectionary bliss. It’s fabulous.
We usually aim for a mix of tried-and-true hits along with a few new recipes: this year, the hitlist included gingerbread caramels, mocha toffee bars, peanut brittle with fleur de sel, hot cocoa blocks.…and this unbelievably delicious mix of subtly sweet, spicy and smoky nuts (they’re from Ina – so I knew before I even made them that they’d be a hit!) These – THESE – were the hit of the day.
These nuts are a perfect foil to the sizeable sugar highs that seem to flip flop us around during December; it’s nice to have a more savory element mixed in with all the sweet treats I usually give as gifts. Spiced with chipotle powder, rosemary, orange juice, and maple syrup, the balance of flavors is pitch-perfect: slighly sweet, salty, with an herbal note from the rosemary and just enough subtle heat underneath all the flavors to warm up your mouth. We added some orange zest to the mixture which was lovely, so much so that I had to make another batch a few days later because we can’t stop snacking on them! They would be fabulous paired with drinks, and (of course) packaged up for gift-giving!
Chipotle & Rosemary Roasted Nuts
adapted from Barefoot Contessa’s How Easy is That? by Ina Garten
I usually find Ina’s recipes to be just ever-so-slightly on the salty side for me, so I scaled down the salt to 1 1/2 teaspoons from the original 2. I also used slightly less chipotle powder than she calls for because the people I was giving these to aren’t big spice fans, but you can alter that according to your taste. If you don’t have chipotle powder, smoked paprika might make a nice substitution.
3 cups whole roasted unsalted cashews (14 ounces)
2 cups whole walnut halves (7 ounces)
2 cups whole pecan halves (7 ounces)
1/2 cup whole almonds (3 ounces)
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
zest of half an orange
2 teaspoons ground chipotle powder [I used slightly less than this]
4 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary leaves, divided
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, stir together the nuts, 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil, maple syrup, brown sugar, orange juice and zest, and chipotle powder. Toss to coat the nuts evenly. Add 2 tablespoons of rosemary and 2 teaspoons of kosher salt, and toss again.
Spread the nuts in a single layer on the baking sheet. Roast for 25 minutes, stirring about halfway through, until glazed and golden brown. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with another teaspoon or so of salt and the remaining 2 tablespoons of minced rosemary.
Stir well and set aside to cool (on the sheet is fine) at room temperature, stirring occasionally to prevent them from sticking too much as they cool. Serve warm or at room temperature; store in an airtight container if not serving immediately.
Makes 8-10 servings.