Saturday, January 4, 2014

Sweet & Smoky Chipotle Toffee Nuts

Waaaaay back in my misspent youth  at the Behrend campus of Penn State (when the NY state line was 15 minutes away and legal drinking age was 18), one of the tunes we danced all night to was a slightly raunchy tune that went, "Hot nuts, hot get 'em from the peanut man." Why am I bringing that up? Every time I make one of our favorite snacks, Sweet & Smoky Chipotle Toffee Nuts, I end up singing that song...much to the chagrin of those around me.

What are hot & Smoky Chipotle Toffee Nuts? Skillet-toasted, cashews, pistachio meats, hazelnuts and almonds encased in a toffee-ish coating enhanced with chipotle powder, cumin, sea salt and lime zest. A little sweet and salty, a little smoky and spicy and a little citrus zip to bring it all together into a delightful fall or winter snack.

You know, Sweet & Smoky Chipotle Toffee Nuts make a great homemade gift for very special friends, too. Isn't it nice not to need the peanut man to get hot nuts when you can do it yourself? Here's how.....

Sweet & Smoky Chipotle Toffee Nuts
  • 3 tablespoons peanut oil, or canola
  • 3/4 cup whole raw almonds
  • 3/4 cup whole cashews
  • 3/4 cup whole hazelnuts
  • 3/4 cup whole pistachio meats - buy them already shelled or enlist the kids to help
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle powder
  • 1 lime, zested - save the lime and juice for a margarita to go with!
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

Heat oil in a heavy skillet (cast iron) over medium-high heat.  Add the nuts and sprinkle with 1/2 cup sugar.  Saute until the almonds become golden brown and the sugar caramelizes, stirring constantly.

Remove nuts from the pan and toss in a bowl with the salt, cumin, chipotle, lime zest and remaining sugar.  Immediately spread over foil to cool.  When your nuts are cool, break them up using two forks.  Store in airtight container. 

NOTE: These go really well with a good Mexican beer or even a margarita on the rocks...that one's MY choice!

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