Cinnamon Sugar Spiced Nuts – A Comforting Snack

cinnamon spiced nuts

My son and I recently went to the BBC Good Food Show, and while we were there we bought some absolutely delicious cinnamon coated nuts. They were so scrumptious, and we were sad when they had all gone. I decided to have a go at making some myself.

I tried a few recipes with varying success. Some just made the nuts very sticky and then set so hard I couldn’t separate the nuts at all. The best ones used egg whites, so I knew that was the way I was going to go with mine. One thing they all lacked though was the cinnamon hit that I had loved so much at the Food Show. I love the taste of cinnamon. It is one of my all-time favourite flavours. My family share my love of the sweet spice too, so I knew I needed to add plenty to get the recipe perfect. Some recipes add vanilla to the mix. I personally preferred it without, but you can add some for even more sweetness if you want. Most recipes also add salt. That is an ingredient I very rarely use. I only add it to recipes where it is needed to cause certain reactions with other ingredients. If you fancy a sweet and salty kick though, by all means add a little bit.

cinnamon spiced nuts

I tried using different types of nut, and discovered that some work better than others. Hazelnuts and almonds are very hard, and I found they needed a lot longer in the oven at a lower temperature to get the right texture. Pecans, walnuts and cashews are not as naturally crunchy and these turned out to be our favourites for this recipe. The cinnamon coating is very crispy when the nuts have cooled, so the contrast in textures just adds even more pleasure to eating them. You can use just one type of nut or use a combination like I did. Pecans and walnuts hold more of the coating due to their bumpy surface, whereas the smoothness of cashews gives them a thin covering. All equally delicious. Don’t use ones that are already roasted or toasted though!

I have made these both with cinnamon as the only spice, and with speculaas spice mix instead. You don’t need as much speculaas spice as just cinnamon, as the other spices in speculaas add a lot more depth of flavour. I would definitely recommend trying them with speculaas spice mix though. Whether you use cinnamon or speculaas, your whole house will smell amazing while they are in the oven!

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CINNAMON SUGAR SPICED NUTS

1 large egg white

1 tbsp cold water

350g pecans, walnuts or cashews, or combination of all 3

200g granulated sugar

2 tbsp ground cinnamon, or 1 tbsp Speculaas spice mix (you can use more or less to taste)

 

  • Preheat your oven to 140c/130c fan. Line a shallow baking tray with foil and then lightly grease the foil with butter.
  • In a small bowl mix the sugar and cinnamon (or speculaas spice) together.
  • Pour the egg white and water into a large bowl and whisk until it is white and foamy, like the bubbles when you wash the dishes. Don’t whisk too much or it will be too dry. You don’t want to get it to a meringue stage!
  • Tip the nuts into the bowl and mix well until every nut is covered in the egg white.

  • Add the cinnamon sugar to the bowl and mix until the nuts are completely coated and there is no egg white foam showing. (Don’t forget, cashews won’t hold as much of the coating as pecans and walnuts so don’t worry if they don’t look as coated… they will hold more after some time in the oven).

  • Tip the nuts on to the baking tray and spread them out to make a single layer. Some might stick together, but that is normal).

  • Place in the middle of the oven for 45 minutes, stirring and spreading them back into one layer every 15 minutes to help them cook evenly. You’ll find the cashews take on more of the coating after the first stir too. When you take them out of the oven at the end of the 45 minutes, stir them up. They should look nice and dry. If they look slightly wet or sticky, just pop them back in the oven for another 10 minutes.

  • Leave to cool completely on the tray, then store in an airtight container.

When the nuts are cooled and you are transferring them to a container for storage, you’ll find lots of crunchy bits of the coating that are left on the tray.

Don’t throw these away! They taste soooooooo good. Put these into a little jar too as they make a heavenly sweet crispy topping to sprinkle over ice cream or other desserts. You can see my little jar on the left in the photo below.

candied nuts

If you want to try them with speculaas spices I would recommend the vandotsch speculaas mix, available HERE.

I can guarantee you will want to make these again and again as they are totally addictive. I asked for recommendations on Twitter for the best places to buy large packs of nuts, and after checking out each one I am happy to recommend you buy them from GRAPE TREE. Their 1kg packs are the cheapest I have seen and I know from experience that they only sell top quality ingredients.

I hope you love them as much as we do. Let me know if you try them ūüôā

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Review of ‘Not Guilty’ by Chef Mick √Člys√©e – including his scrumptious recipe for Plantain Pancakes

I was recently lucky enough to be invited to be part of the blog tour helping to promote Chef Mick √Člys√©e’s new book, Not Guilty. I have to admit, until this tour I hadn’t heard of Mick (sorry), but I am so glad I have now been introduced to his recipes!

Before I tell you about the wonderful new book, let me tell you about Chef Mick √Člys√©e, as his story is inspirational.

Mick grew up in the Republic of Congo, where he loved watching his mother cooking, and sneakily pinching food from the pot when she wasn’t looking. Sadly though, his happy life was soon to be turned upside down. In 1993, at the height of the Congolese Civil War, several of his family were killed. This meant that at the age of 14, Mick arrived in France as a refugee and had to adapt to a new life in an unfamiliar culture. He struggled academically, as he was not used to the French school system, but his passion for food shone through and gave him the strength to get through this traumatic time. He devoted his time to learning all about European cuisine, and in 1997 he was accepted into one of France’s most prestigious culinary schools. There, he began his classical training and worked under Michel Toulousi and Jean-Marc Desclaux. At the age of 22, just 8 years after arriving in France, Mick and his business partner opened a restaurant called La Gascogne, which received critical acclaim.

Today, Mick’s roots in the Congo play a huge part in his life. As well as the influence they have in his Afro-Fusion recipes, he is also passionate about giving back to the communities there. He regularly works with orphanages in Brazzaville and Kinshasa, and with a free school for children with physical and mental disabilities. He also provides cookery workshops for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds, as well as educational support to equip them with life skills. What a truly amazing man!

Mick’s long-awaited book Not Guilty was published just a few weeks ago. It features healthy African recipes including starters, snacks, main meals and desserts, as well as stocks to use as bases for other dishes. Every recipe has a beautiful vibrant photograph of the end result as well as step-by-step instructions on how to make them. The photographs are mouth-wateringly tempting, and I’m looking forward to making lots more of them in the near future. The book has encouraged me to look at ingredients I have never used before, and that really excites me. Exotic fruit and vegetables, and meats I have never eaten let alone cooked, this book takes you on a wonderful taste adventure.

I was tempted by lots of the recipes but decided to make the Plantain Pancakes for this review. This is the photograph in the book:

I had never eaten plantain until making these, and the recipe requires 1 very ripe plantain. As I was unfamiliar with cooking with plantain I did a bit of research so I could tell when one was ready to use. I had presumed they would be like bananas as they look so similar, but I was wrong! Plantains are used in both sweet and savoury cooking. Many savoury recipes require them to be very hard and not too ripe. In those cases it would be best to use plantains when the skin is still green. The riper the plantain, the sweeter it becomes. The shop where I bought mine sold them when they looked yellow. These are ripe, but not quite enough. I discovered that they can take weeks to fully ripen, unlike bananas which take a few days. I didn’t have weeks after I had bought mine so I read that you can ripen them quicker by placing them in a paper bag with an apple. The apple produces a gas which aids the process. I did this with one of the ones I bought, and it worked! The one in my main picture is nowhere near ripe enough, even though it is looking a bit blackened. A perfectly ripened plantain has a black skin which looks very slightly wrinkled. Imagine the look of a banana when it is too far gone to even use in recipes… that is how a very ripe plantain looks, and that is how it needs to be for this recipe. I used one like this in the pancake recipe.

To get the fruit out of the skin, simply slice each end off with a sharp knife and cut a slit from one end to the other. You can then easily peel the skin off in one go. Very ripe plantain is soft and a lovely yellowy-peachy colour inside. This means it is really easy to blend in recipes. And speaking of recipes, here is the pancake one for you to try too.

 

PLANTAIN PANCAKES

1 very ripe plantain

2 fresh eggs

1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon

2 tbsps semi-skimmed, or almond, or coconut milk

1/2 vanilla pod

150g strawberries, cut into chunks

2 tbsps honey

coconut oil, for frying (1 tsp per pancake + 1 tbsp for the topping)

 

  • Split the vanilla pod in half lengthwise, and then use the tip of a knife to scrape the seeds out. Combine the plantain, eggs, cinnamon, milk and vanilla seeds, and blend together until you get a creamy paste. (I did this in a food processor by blending the plantain first until it was lump-free and creamy, then beating in the rest of the ingredients with a spoon).
  • Place a frying pan over a low heat, add 1 teaspoon of coconut oil, and fry one pancake until the bottom is golden brown. Flip it over and cook until that side is golden too. Repeat until the mixture is all used up, using 1 teaspoon of coconut oil for each pancake.
  • Using the same frying pan, heat 1 tbsp of coconut oil. Add the strawberries, stir quickly to coat them in the oil, then add the honey. Cook for 1 minute until the juice reduces slightly, then remove from the heat.
  • Place the pancakes on a serving plate, spoon the strawberries on top, and then finish with the honey sauce.

 

So what did I think of my very first plantain experience? I loved it! The coconut oil adds a wonderful flavour, and the strawberry honey sauce adds an extra hit of sweetness which is just divine. My honey sauce took on the colour of the strawberries and went a lovely shade of red, so it didn’t look like the photograph in the book but it still tasted amazing! I am looking forward to making more of Chef Mick √Člys√©e’s delicious recipes very soon. His Jollof Quinoa and Roast Chicken, and his Papaya Tart recipes are next on my agenda from this book. Yum!

If you would like to find out more about Chef Mick √Člys√©e and his new book, including where to buy it, you can find his website¬†HERE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Organix… Not Just For Babies! Healthy Snacks for Children

I was recently approached by a lovely lady from the very well-known brand Organix, who asked if Luke would like to try some of their snacks. Now I’ll be honest with you, I had heard of Organix. Who hasn’t?? They are a HUGE brand and leaders in healthier snacks. Luke had many of their finger food snacks as a baby and toddler and absolutely loved them (especially their apple rice cakes), but I stopped buying them when he started school. I had no idea that they did snacks for older children though!

I was sent two boxes of Organix Punk’d Oaty Bars. These are aimed at primary school aged children from 5-11 years old. They are available in 2 delicious flavours: Strawberry and Vanilla Smash, and Cocoa and Orange Crash. There are 6 bars in a pack, each individually wrapped, making them perfect for school lunchboxes. Most schools now won’t let children take unhealthy things in their lunchbox, so these are perfect! The packaging is cool and funky, and I personally love the name. If you are “punked” you have had a trick played on you. The trick with these bars is your child won’t realise they are eating something that is actually good for them. Bonus!

The long school Summer holiday is here and if your child is anything like mine, they’ll be constantly looking for snacks. It never ceases to amaze me how much Luke can eat during weekends and holidays. He must be starving on school days having to wait 3 hours between food!!! I always make sure the fruit bowl is full and there are yoghurts in the fridge, but sometimes he just wants something unhealthy and sweet. Punk’d Bars satisfy those sweet cravings, even though they are healthy. And because they are made mainly from oats and sultanas they are filling too so keep him going until mealtimes! I am keeping a permanent supply of these bars in the cupboard! They are a good source of fibre and protein, and are suitable for vegetarians. All of the ingredients are organic, and the sweetness comes from naturally occurring sugars from the fruit. Organix have a No Junk Promise, and there is nothing artificial in any of their bars. These bars would also be ideal for days out, as they are so conveniently packed to have in your bag or coat pocket.

Organix products are available in many supermarkets so are very easy to get your hands on. If you want to find out more about their range of products for each age group, click HERE to go to the Organix website.

Organix sent me some delicious healthy recipes to try out and some great tips on healthy snacking, so look out for those posts over the next few weeks!

 

DISCLAIMER: I was sent the Punk’d Bars for free in return for an honest review. I only recommend products or services I genuinely like, as honesty is at the heart of my blog. All opinions are my own honest views.¬†