Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Sweet and Spicy Bacon Nuts

These treats are super quick to mix up and take very little effort. I tinkered with several versions of this recipe searching for the lowest sugar content I could really get away with and still end up with a nice coating. Paul taste tested every one like a trooper. ;) Don't like peanuts? Switch out the nuts for a different variety or even a mix of nuts and seeds. The spice mix is easy to manipulate for personal tastes as well.

Sweet and Spicy Bacon Nuts

2 cups unsalted dry roasted peanuts
1/4 cup sugar
1.5 tbls water
1 tsp peppered bacon salt
1/2 tsp cajun seasoning
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
dash of black pepper

Mix everything together in a saucepan except for the peanuts. Place over medium heat on the stove and stir constantly. Bring the mixture to a boil and continue cooking for about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the peanuts, one cup at a time. Keep stirring the nuts for another few minutes. (I tend to sneak in a few additional nuts in this stage to stretch the coating a bit further.) The additional stir time will change your coating from sticky to a matte, crystallized finish....either is tasty mind you but the crystallized look is much prettier and easier to eat. Pour nuts out onto greased cookie sheet to cool. Store in airtight bag.....assuming you actually end up with any leftovers.

And now.....pictures of the process...

J&D's Peppered Bacon Salt.....it does exist! They actually have several different varieties, but this one is our favorite. We pretty much gave up bacon so this makes a cool addition to the spice cabinet. It doesn't compete well with a lot of other flavors, but in a recipe like this one the bacon flavor stands out. Cajun seasoning (this one is my all time favorite) isn't spicy....just pops in flavor. With limited amounts of salt you really have to get everything you can out what you use.
This is the uncooked sugar mixture. It's loose and fluid at this stage.

This is the moment you start the 2 minute countdown. A nice boil covers the surface of the mixture. Silicone spatulas are wonderful for recipes like this one by the way. No worries about melting yet another implement...not that I've done that....cough...

This is when you are approaching done with your coating. The color is darker and thicker.
And it's done....thick enough that it's you see the bottom of the pan when you're stirring. A note here....I never cook the coating mix beyond 2 minutes but I have cooked it for only a minute or minute in a half many times.....it's an eyeball thing.

With a stir, stir here....and a stir, stir there....I've added the nuts and I'm just working them a bit to get the pretty crystal coating. Though you can see how they like to clump together so stir might be the wrong term.....more like mash your implement through the middle to try and break things apart and move around the nuts when they immediately re-stick themselves. Silicone is your friend. When you pour your nuts out onto the cookie sheet you will have to break them up a bit into smaller clusters or individual bits...but it's that's easy enough.

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