Peppered Candied Walnuts are sweet, salty, spicy and very crunchy. They are a delicious snack and are just perfect for parties. They pair well with most drinks.
Most adults love them. Be warned however that they are dangerously addictive and make you very thirsty.
Peppered walnuts are a hot and spicy adaptation of the popular sweet caramelised sugar coated nuts. The addition of cayenne pepper, cumin, and other spices creates their unique flavor.
This article contains three fabulous recipes that can be used for other nuts such as pecans and almonds. Despite the sugar, the nutrients in the nuts make candied walnuts and pecans a healthy snack. When prepared properly, the walnuts or pecans are coated with a crunchy mahogany colored coating of pepper, spice and sugar.
If you reduce the amount of cayenne pepper, these nuts are ideal for candies and desserts. The nuts are also delightful for topping salads and various savory dishes. Many people use them in the renowned Waldorf salad.
When preparing the nuts there are two things that can go wrong: The nuts end up with a burnt taste because you over-heated the sugar, or burn the nuts, or groups of nuts clump together bound by the sugar syrup.
The instructions below will help you avoid these hazards and help you make the perfect peppered candied walnuts at home.
Preheat oven to 175 degrees C (350 degrees F). Use parchment paper to line a baking sheet. Tranfer 3/4 cup of the sugar to a small to medium size, heavy-bottomed skillet or pan and cook using high heat, stirring continuously until the sugar turns a light bown caramel color. This generally takes about 4 - 5 minutes. Add the butter to the pan and stir to melt the butter into the sugar. Add the nuts to the pan and stir well to evenly coat all surfaces of the nuts with the sugar mixture. Transfer the nuts to the prepared lined, baking sheet and spread the nuts out to for a single layer. A silicon baking sheet is ideal for this as the sugar will not stick to it. Transfer the sheet to the oven and bake for about 15 minutes, tossing every 5 minutes or so until the nuts are toasted. Then transfer the hot nuts to a medium-sized bowl. Quickly mix the salt, black pepper, cumin, 2 tablespoons of sugar and cayenne pepper in a cup, and toss over the nuts and mix to even coat all the nuts. Then quickly transfer the nuts to a second baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Speed is essential to stop the nuts clumping together. Separate the individual nuts using a fork to form an evenly layer without any of the nuts to touch each other. Allow the nuts to cool down before serving.
Pour the oil into a deep fryer, or heavy saucepan or pot to get a depth of at least 3 inches ( 8 cm) and heat to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Heat a large saucepan of water and bring to the boil. In a small bowl, combine 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, cinnamon and cayenne pepper together and mix well. Place the nuts into a sieve and plunge them into the boiling water and leave heating for 30-60 seconds depending on the size of the nuts. This heating in water removes part of the tannins and help give the walnuts a sweeter taste. While the walnuts are still hot and have some water clinging to them, transfer to a hot dry saucepan. Quickly add the sugar and toss well to coat the nuts evenly. Having the nuts hot is important as the sugar will melt when it contacts the hot nuts. Keep tossing and stirring until all the sugar has melted and is coating the nuts.
Using a large metal spoon with slots, transfer a portion of the nuts to the hot oil. Permit the foam to die down, and then add another spoonful of nuts. Deep fry the nuts until they are a medium brown, this will take 30 to 60 seconds depending in the size of the nuts. As each batch is cooked, lift them out with the spoon, drain and spread them out on a rimmed baking sheet to cool down. While the nuts are still warm, sprinkle evenly with about half of the spice mix and toss well. Fry the remaining nuts in batches and coat with the spices. Let the nuts cool completely. They can be stored in a tightly capped jar and will keep for about two weeks.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line a large baking sheet with a rim using aluminum foil. Spraying the foil thoroughly with non-stick cooking spray. Spread the walnuts out evenly on the baking sheet and roast them in the heated oven for about 10-15 minute until they are medium brown and fragrant. Toss every 3 or 4 minutes during the roasting. Melt the butter in a saucepan or using the Microwave. Stir in the maple syrup, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon and cayenne pepper. Once the nuts have been roasted transfer them into the hot coating mixture. Keep stirring until the surfaces of the nuts are evenly coated. Then transfer the coated nuts back onto the foil-lined baking sheet and disperse them in a single layer over the sheet. Place them back into the oven and bake for another 10 minutes, tossing 2-3 times during the 10 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven an allow the nuts to become crisp when cooling down on the baking sheet. Once cool separate any nuts that have stuck together and store in an airtight container.