Okay, so you can see the post on how to make this recipe without the epic fail HERE. But here’s the story behind my first trial. I’m a brave soul in the kitchen. I don’t like to precisely measure anything (which makes me a terrible baker), and I like to switch out ingredients just to see what happens. This is one time where that epically failed! I was trying to recreate some sweet and spicy nuts my husband and I had while visiting a little inn in San Luis Obispo. I really wanted to try to use local honey instead of processed sugar. That was a mistake! I traded the honey for the sugar 1 to 1. I’m assuming that’s not how you’re supposed to do it!
What I ended up with was a sticky mess! This *might* work if you were looking to make a sticky brittle. It was actually crazy yummy, you just couldn’t get it to stop sticking to everything – including itself.
I started by collecting all of my ingredients. Plain almonds & Pecans (not salted), Fennel Seed, Chipotle Powder, Honey, Chinese Five Spice & Course Salt
Man oh man, I’m so thankful I used parchment paper when I cooked this! I couldn’t get half of it off the parchment paper! I can’t even fathom what it would have looked like if I had to scrub it off a stone pan. Yikes!
The first thing I did was pour my nut mixture on my parchment lined baking pan. I popped them in the oven for about 8 minutes while I preparde the other ingredients. This step was important because the nuts were warm enough to melt the honey a bit more & make spreading the mixture easier.
While I was waiting for the nuts to toast a bit, I measured out and mixed up my spices in a decent size mixing bowl (one that easily fit 4 cups of nuts plus the honey). I stirred the spices well – to get read to add the nuts & honey. Now you may be looking at me funny when I tell you to use fennel seeds, but trust me! They seemed like an odd ingredient, but oh my word, they are delicious! They have a little bit of a bite & after you roast them with the nuts, they become crispy little crunchies in your nut mix! Delicious.
When the nuts had toasted for the 8 minutes, I carefully took them out and poured them into the bowl of spices. Then drizzled the honey over the warm and toasty nuts. The next part required a bit of elbow grease. I carefully and thoroughly mixed the honey, nuts and spices together making sure everything is pretty evenly coated. At this point the kitchen smelled ridiculously yummy! A bit spicy, a bit sweet and warm. I love it! However, the sheer degree of stickiness should have been a clue that I was heading down a dangerous path.
I spread them out on the (thankfully) parchment covered paper. Goopy, sticky and all! The bowl and spoon were actually pretty easy to clean up because I did it right away. I shudder to think what would have happened if I had waited! Definitely a perma-stick nightmare!
Oh dear goodness, the honey bubbled up and covered the nuts in a gooey, sticky, frothy sauce. The house smelled wonderful, and I got excited because I was almost done! I stirred the nuts every 10 minutes for a total of 30 minutes. This ensured that they were properly toasted, and it helped the honey and spices to soak into the nuts – maybe a little too much!
This took a bit of experimentation, but I finally figured it out. I found that you absolutely had to remove the nuts from the hot baking pan in order for them to cool properly. I also found that you could just carefully pick up the parchment from the baking pan and place it on a wire wrack (or cool baking sheet) to cool your nuts. Or so I thought – this is where I think I failed horribly. I needed to remove the nuts from the liquid (sticky honey mixture) on the original parchment. Oops.
So when I saw this, I was still optimistic. I tried picking apart the nuts individually – that didn’t work. So I tried clusters of nuts, prying them apart desperately to save this recipe! I put them in a quart mason jar, because let’s face it, mason jars kind of fix things. Alas, it didn’t work this time. You can see the giant ball of nuts stuck to the jar – not budging. I actually don’t know how I’m going to get them out of the jar!
So I’m wishing you a better experience with your sweet & spicy nuts! Here is the recipe that finally worked. Enjoy!