Friday, February 8, 2013

Spiced pecans too good to save for holidays

Year after year, one of our most anticipated holiday gifts is a tin of spiced pecans from my college buddy, maid of honor and enduring confidante Tracey Nichols. They arrived early this year, as did Hanukkah. Despite solemn oaths to make them last more than a day, they were gone within an hour.

When finished, the spiced pecans will have
a crispy, bubbled surface.
And, year after year, we talk about why it’s crazy to only snack on these irresistible nibbles at the holidays.  It’s one thing to cling to tradition, but it’s another to deny yourself the sweet satisfaction of a truly simple to prepare treat.

Tracey agrees and gladly shared her recipe for this month’s #LetsLunch posting. Since we are not the only ones to enjoy her cookery – she also sends cookies, but that’s another story – she wants you to know that it can easily be tripled and baked on two sheet pans for maximum sharing. Or hoarding.

Splurge on whole “fancy” pecans, which deliver a more appetizing presentation than cheaper broken pieces. I guesstimated the bulk of my $10 purchase from a store bin that’s frequently replenished. While the recipe calls for 3 cups of nuts, I had closer to 3½ cups. The sugared spiced mix, congealed with the glue of an exceptionally fresh egg white from my neighbor’s farm, was more than ample to coat to the extra handful.  

The spice mix is well balanced but totally tweakable. Though I adore this highly anticipated gift, I have to admit I gulped in horror to realize it contains ground cloves – second only to anise in my Voldemort of Spices list. Not surprisingly, I didn’t have any, so I substituted freshly ground cardamom. The floral aroma that filled my kitchen was intoxicating.  Next time, I might add a dash of cayenne.

Even though I know I can make these any time now, I probably won’t.  The nuts were delicious, but not quite so perfect as receiving them year after year in the same tin, which I faithfully mail back for refills.

Tracey’s Spiced Pecans
1 egg white, beaten slightly
½ tsp. salt
1 tbsp. water
1 tsp. cinnamon
3 cups pecan halves
¼ tsp. ground cloves
½ cup sugar
½ tsp. ground nutmeg

In a small bowl, beat together egg white and water.  Stir in the pecans, stirring until all sides of pecans are moistened.  In a small bowl, mix together sugar, salt, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg.  Sprinkle over pecans, mixing well. 

Glossy spiced pecans, before baking.
Cover a cookie sheet with foil and coat lightly with vegetable oil spray.  Spread pecans on cookie sheet and bake in a preheated 300 degree oven for 30-35 minutes.  Stir after 15 minutes to redistribute nuts. When finished, the nuts will shake easily on the pan and have a slightly bubbled, dry crust.

Allow to cool then store in a tin or other airtight container. Will last about a week at room temperature, or so they say.


  1. Cardamom makes everything better in my book! I love how they're just glistening in that picture. Thanks for sharing...

  2. Wow, these would not last long in my house! Great recipe, Jill, thanks for sharing it with us for #letslunch

  3. ooh, cardamom and cayenne would be right up my alley!

  4. My mouth is watering....

  5. I feel the same way about anise, but love cardamom!

  6. Voldemort of spices - too funny! These look terrific!