Friends or family stopping by? Drop in guests you weren't expecting? Tired of munching on chips or popcorn? I have the solution with Dori Greenspan's recipe for Sweet and Spicy Cocktail Nuts (Around My French Table). And as she notes, they're good with everything from cider to beer to Champagne....I will note they are also delicious with Sweet Tea or Dr. Pepper, but that's my opinion. :)
Here's her recipe with her notations. Feel free to use a mixture of nuts, all of one kind and make sure you read her suggestions for mixing up the spices.
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons chile powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 large egg white
2 cups nuts, whole or halves, but not small pieces, such as almonds, cashews, peanuts, pecans, or a mix
Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Spray a nonstick baking sheet with cooking spray or line it with a silicone baking mat.
Mix the sugar and spices together in a small bowl. Beat the egg white lightly with a fork in a larger bowl – you’re not making a meringue, just breaking up the white so that it’s liquid. Toss in the nuts, stir to coat them with egg white, then add the sugar-and-spice mixture and continue to stir so that the nuts are evenly covered.
Using your fingers, lift the nuts from the bowl, letting the excess egg white drip back into the bowl (you can run the dipped nuts against the side of the bowl to de-excess them), and transfer them to the baking sheet, separating them as best you can. Discard whatever sugar-egg mix is left in the bowl.
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the nuts are browned and the coating is dry. Cool for 5 minutes, then transfer the nuts to another baking sheet, a cutting board or a piece of parchment paper, break them apart, and let them cool completely. The nuts crisp as they cool.
Serving: These are good with everything from cider and beer to Champagne.
Storing: Kept covered in a dry place, the nuts will hold for about 5 days at room temperature.
Note: You can swap the spices at whim. For a change, omit the chile powder and go for 5-spice powder (you can keep the cinnamon, if you’d like), curry powder (I’d use just a smidgen of cinnamon with the curry) or even cardamom (in which case, I’d cut out the cinnamon). You can also make herb-flavored nuts using finely chopped fresh herbs or dried herbs (just make sure your dried herbs are brightly colored and still fragrant). Keep the sugar and salt, drop the chile powder and cinnamon, and try mixing the nuts with fresh rosemary or thyme or dried herbes de Provence.