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, availableĀ 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 šŸ™‚

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vandotsch Speculaas Spice Mix Review – A Log Fire on a Cold Day

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I was recently sent a sample of the vandotsch speculaas spice mix to review for the brilliantĀ My Foodie Heaven, an online magazine featuring artisan and speciality food brands and products.

Here are a couple of recipes that I made using this gorgeous spice mix:

HONEY ROASTED CARROTS

500g carrots, peeled

2 tbsp honey

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp speculaas spice mix

  • Preheat your oven to 200C. Cut the carrots in half down the length from top to bottom, then in half again so you have long quartered carrots. I like to then cut them into strips about 2.5 inches long but you can leave them as they are if you prefer.
  • Mix the honey, olive oil and speculaas spice mix together and then toss the carrots well in the mixture, ensuring the carrots have a nice coating.
  • Spread the carrots out on to a shallow baking tray and roast in the centre of the oven for 20-25 minutes until golden and cooked through.

These are absolutely beautiful and will be a definite part of our family Christmas dinner! This recipe serves 4, or if you’re like me and can’t resist pinching a few as you are serving them up, it serves 3. Ahem!

I grew up in South Wales in a lovely little village called Ystradgynlais. It was in the days when there were lots of family friends who you were brought up to think of as relatives, but they weren’t. One such person was a lovely little old lady who we called Granny Dub (no idea why). My fondest memory of Granny Dub was going round to her house and sitting in her kitchen as she made batch after batch of Welsh cakes, and eating them while they were still warm. (In those days, the kitchen was the heart of the house, and when you visited people you sat at the kitchen table). The smell of those Welsh cakes and the melt-in-your-mouth texture has stayed with me all these years later, and I now keep her tradition of making them for my family. I used to use mixed spice or cinnamon in them but after trying them with the speculaas mix, that’s the only way I’ll make them from now on. This recipe makes a lot, so you can just half the ingredients if you prefer.

WELSH CAKES

450g plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

pinch of salt

pinch of speculaas spice mix

110g unsalted butter

110g lard

110g seedless raisins

200g caster sugar

2 eggs, beaten

  • Milk, to mix into dough

Caster sugar, to sprinkle after cooking

  • Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and spice mix into a large bowl.
  • Use your fingertips to rub the butter and lard into the flour mix until it resembles breadcrumbs.
  • Stir in the raisins and sugar until evenly distributed, then add the egg and enough milk to form a quite stiff dough.
  • Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface, to a thickness of around 1cm. and use a round cutter (about 5cm wide) to cut out the cakes.
  • Cook on a greased bakestone, griddle or heavy based frying pan over a medium heat for 2-3 minutes on each side, until golden brown.
  • Remove from heat, sprinkle with caster sugar and enjoy. Delicious warm or cold but extra yummy when warm.

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Another way I enjoyed this spice mix was to make a tasty treat using the seeds from the pumpkins we carved for Halloween. I washed and dried the seeds, then mixed 2 tbsp of rapeseed oil with 2 tsp of speculaas spice mix, tossed the seeds in it, and toasted them on a baking tray in the oven at 150C for 45 minutes. To make them even yummier I mixed a tbsp brown sugar with a pinch of Speculaas mix and tossed them in there after toasting too.

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If you’re wondering what the title for this blog post is about, that is the best way I can think of to describe this amazing Spice mix. Picture the scene… it is cold, snowy and windy outside, your car broke down and you had to walk miles in this awful weather. You’re in the middle of nowhere, and have no idea how to get home. You finally come across a little country inn, open the door and get hit by the welcoming heat of an open log fire. As you sit in front of it warming up, all your worries seem to melt away and that blissful cosy feeling takes over and you could just stay there all night. Well THAT feeling is what the Speculaas spice mix gives you. Use some in a recipe, smell its beautiful aroma as it cooks, taste the explosion of warm spices as you eat, and you’ll know exactly what I mean. Heaven šŸ™‚ You can use it in place of cinnamon in any recipe so the possibilities are endless!

If I have tempted you to try some yourself, you can buy some or read about itĀ HERE

Let me know what recipes you use it in!