Monday, December 17, 2012

Nailed it Pecans.

I wholeheartedly and fundamentally support pecan trees.
1) they're pretty
2) they give me delicious things to eat.

I do not own a pecan tree, and I have never owned a pecan tree, but I like to do my part to encourage the proliferation of pecan trees, and therefore, i choose to fund the pecan industry heavily.. so that they will expand their pecany horizons. and bring me more snacks.

Just kidding, I only care about the snacks. I'm not opposed to trees or anything, I just don't think about them when I've got a serious case of the noms.

I take that back. I am opposed to certain trees. I am fundamentally opposed to bradford pear trees. More on that later.

PECANS are a delicious gift from the heavens. The best pecans are from a little part of heaven called Georgia. and the VERY best pecans are named after a very special place in Georgia. They are Valdosta Pecans, made by Sahale Snacks.

I found these in a starbucks a couple years back, and haven't been able to find them since.
If you like pecans, 1) congrats on being a perfectly sane and healthy individual 2) buy these any time you see them.
This is the reason pecans exist. To be crunchy and lightly sweetened, mixed with a chewy sweet tart cranberry, a kick of black pepper and a slight aroma of orange zest.
This is the gift we made to give back to the heavens that gave us pecans.

Side note - They're eleventy billion dollars a pouch.
Okay, they're like seven dollars a pouch (4 ounces).  But that is entirely too much money for my thrifty self to justify. They occasionally have better deals HERE, but still not better enough to make a difference.

So clearly, I had to find an alternative.
Well you may recall a slight nut-cooking-mishap from last week. That was round one. I'm not proud of it. My crock pot is still in recovery. (seriously burnt sugar is IMPOSSIBLE to get off).
Spit Spit Stomp Stomp - get the thought out of my head.

Plan B is to go the plain jane oven route.
Which, I was shocked to discover, was way easier and less time consuming than the crock pot method.. which I thought kinda defeated the purpose of a crock pot.

You'd be surprised how few black pepper candied pecans, cranberry black pepper pecans, cracked black pepper pecans (etc.) pins there are on pinterest.
Or search results there are on Google.

As is my wont - I was gonna wing it.. kinda.
I just decided to figure out how to make basic sugared pecans. nothing fancy, just the run of the mill recipe.
So i used the first one I found, omitted the cinnamon is called for, and added what I wanted. Here's the final recipe:

Ingredients:
  • 1lb of pecans - I had several smaller bags, some "halves" and some "shelled" which are basically the same thing.
  • 1 egg white -
  • 2 tablespoons of warm water
  • 1 teaspoon of salt ( I used fine sea salt, cuz I'm fancy)
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1/2 bag of craisins, more or less to taste.
  • Peppercorns and grinder. to taste. yes, you need to crack it at the time of cooking, yes it matters.
  • 1/4 cup of water
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees, and line a pan-

Put pecans in a large mixing bowl, in a small bowl mix the egg white and the spoonfuls of water, then dump them onto the pecans and stir to evenly coat.

Sprinkle on the salt, distributing as evenly as possible, and stirring again to make sure it's spread throughout.

Repeat with the cup of sugar. Craisins, and pepper

Put in the oven for 15 minutes, stir

Another 15 minutes, stir.

A 3rd 15 minutes, drizzle on the 1/4 cup of water, stir, and return to oven for a final 15 minutes.

When they're done, stir them again, crack on some pepper, and let them cool.


IMPORTANT INFORMATION:
SUGAR STICKS TO EVERYTHING WHEN IT'S HOT.
I fortunately have a silpat, which I highly recommend for anyone that bakes or cooks with sugar, because it's a lifesaver.  Also, you'll be doing a lot of stirring, so something with deepish sides is probably preffered. I used a big roasting pan. Sometimes I have a brain :)

Also, You can go ahead and mix in the Craisins at the beginning if you want. It doesn't seem to hurt them, but it doesn't really do anything extra either.  So on my 2nd batch, I left them out at first, and added a small sprinkling of Craisins and Pepper at each stirring interval. It was more work, but it made me feel like I was adding some flavor depth. There might have been more chewyness this way, but it's really up to you.

Finally, the 1/4 cup of water is a secret that I know from who-knows-where. It sounds like a grandmother trick, but I don't recall her actually teaching it to me.


Normally, Sugared Pecans have a bit of a dusty sugar coating. It's crumbly, and still has the grains of sugar, albeit stuck onto the pecans. I didn't want that. I wanted a GLAZE. By adding the water, the grains of sugar are able to dissolve a little bit better while baking and become a liquid, and then re-harden when they cool. Thus leaving you with a glaze, instead of a powdercoat.

You can start to see the difference in the photos above, taken just a few minutes apart, but the final product is significantly different.

I haven't decided on the best way to eat these, but so far every way is awesome.
I had them on yogurt for breakfast - delightful.
I mixed them with some blue cheese and topped off my salad for lunch - amazing.
and then obviously there's the snacking.

I have a white cover on my phone and it took me an entire day to figure out what in the world was turning my phone cover pink! Well it was apparently cranberry dye on my hands. You've been warned!

  



And now, for a picture of the peanut gallery:

1 comment:

  1. Sounds yummy! My grandparents front yard is full of pecan trees, so any visit results in bringing home bags full. Now I have something else to try. :-)

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