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chipotle & rosemary roasted nuts

December 18, 2011

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
Kosher salt


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.

10 Comments leave one →
  1. Rachel permalink
    December 18, 2011 2:46 pm

    These look great! Did you use raw or roasted nuts for the almonds, pecans and walnuts?

  2. Emily permalink
    December 20, 2011 11:28 pm

    Yay! The irony about these nuts being not as sweet as all the other stuff we made is that I would eat a handful of these, find myself craving a bite of peanut brittle… So then I’d eat some peanut brittle and find myself craving more of these. A vicious cycle of nuts!

  3. December 21, 2011 11:25 am

    I love whirlwind days of baking. I recently invited a couple of gf’s over to my apartment for a day of baking and wine and it was such a good time. Thanks also for turning me on to so many delicious recipes. The hot chocolate blocks sound awesome and perfect for gifting. Quick question, I know the recipe recommends dunking them in milk but have you tried them in hot water? I often send care packages overseas to the troops and was thinking this might be something fun to send, but wasn’t sure about access to hot milk (though hot water seems easy enough). Let me know.

    • December 21, 2011 11:54 am

      Hi Kelly – I tried that as an experiment…I’ll say this: if you don’t mind regular hot cocoa mix made with water, then it’s probably okay. I thought it wasn’t rich enough made with water – I definitely prefer w/milk. I actually wouldn’t recommend shipping these at room temperature when you’re not sure how long it will take to reach their destination (or what temps they’ll be exposed to in the process) – they are very much like fudge and might get melty.

      @Emily – LOL, I can totally relate! I made another batch of brittle yesterday and just had to “clean up” the shards and trimmings…then went in for handful of these nuts to “balance it out.”

  4. December 27, 2011 9:40 pm

    Sweet and heat is such a fantastic combination!

  5. January 5, 2012 7:15 am

    These look delicious! I too love the combination of sweet and spicy….thanks for sharing this recipe.

  6. January 26, 2012 1:29 am

    Lovely post and pictures. These nuts look absolutely fantastic. Great way to curb the sugar intake.

  7. KareninOttawa permalink
    May 2, 2012 3:39 pm

    You mention that you always find the Barefoot Contessa’s recipe’s too salty. Perhaps it’s the brand of salt that is to blame. I believe Ina Garten uses Diamond Kosher salt which has bigger flakes and therefore less salt per tablespoon than other brands.

    There is a good explanation here.

    So, when compared by weight “1 teaspoon fine sea or table salt = roughly 1 1/4 teaspoons Morton’s kosher salt = roughly 1 3/4 teaspoons Diamond Crystal kosher salt”

    • May 3, 2012 6:55 am

      Hi Karen, thanks for the tip; I remember reading that on Deb’s site awhile back too! And I do actually use Diamond brand kosher salt…so I think it’s just personal taste! 🙂 Cheers, Amy

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