In our household we’re big fans of snacking. There’s always a large selection of things to nibble on just because sometimes you want sweet, while other times you want salty and other times still, you just need a little something to spice things up. That’s where these walnuts come in. These are the ideal snack food because they are the best of all worlds. These crunchy little tidbits are both sweet, slightly salty and definitely spicy. That combo of sweet heat just hits your taste buds and it’s oh so nice.
Normally the words “there are walnuts in it” sends me running in the other direction. I don’t like walnuts. I don’t care for them in my brownies, on top of my sundaes or sprinkled over my salad. However, one day my step-mother made this incredible spicy little snack and somehow convinced me to try them. I’m not really sure how that even happened. But man, am I glad that I did! I couldn’t stop eating them. That crunch as you bite into the walnuts, the first hint of sweetness and then the warmth of a slight heat all melds so well together creating a truly addictive snack food. After that, I had to try making them myself.
Now, for anyone who knows me there are certain things that I just have difficulty with for one reason or another. I know where I excel and I am comfortable with my limitations. One thing that I do not do well is frying anything! It’s a good thing that I eat pretty healthy overall and don’t have a lot of use for the skill of frying food. One wouldn’t think that this would be a difficult task however, for me it just doesn’t turn out well. I burn things and create an incredible smoke condition throughout our tiny home. Windows are flung open and smoke detectors are removed from walls. It’s just disastrous.
So, when I was told that I needed to fry these walnuts I was panic-stricken. I was pleasantly surprised when I was able to handle the task with no difficulty what so ever. Amazingly, the batteries remained in my smoke detectors and they didn’t go off once! This in itself is a small miracle. These walnuts are quick and easy to make which is a good thing because they are always in high demand. I also think that any nut would be good here… Try pecans, peanuts, cashews, almonds or a mixture of a few perhaps! Regardless, they’re sure to be a hit.
Spiced Candied Walnuts by Michael Chiarello
Peanut or canola oil
4 c. walnut halves
1 c. confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt or more to taste
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
- In a large, heavy bottom skillet, heat about 1 inch of oil to 350 degrees.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the walnuts and blanch for 30 seconds. Drain and transfer the nuts to a medium bowl.
- While the nuts are still hot and slightly wet, add the confectioners’ sugar and toss to coat the nuts. Stir and toss until all the sugar has melted into the nuts. This is important because if bits of unmelted sugar remain on the nuts they will not fry properly.
- Stir the nuts again before frying. Using a large slotted spoon, transfer a few nuts to the hot oil, allowing the foam to subside before adding another spoonful. Fry in small batches until the nuts are medium brown, about 45 seconds. Be careful not to overcook. Scatter on an unlined baking sheet to cool slightly.
- In a small bowl, stir together cayenne, cinnamon, salt and pepper.
- While the nuts are still warm, transfer them to a bowl and sprinkle them evenly with about half of the spice mix. Toss well to distribute the spices and then taste a nut. Add more spice mix, to taste and toss well after each addition. When cool, store in an airtight jar for up to 2 weeks.