Sweet and Spicy Nuts

sweet and spicy nuts

From Thailand

These crunchy spicy nuts are yummy tidbits for anytime in between - and are sure to become everyone's favorites. They also make great gifts when visiting friends.

Serves: 6 - 8 / Ready in: 1 hr

Great for: healthy snack, vegan

Ingredients for spicy nuts:

1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses

1 cup water

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cardamom

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground cumin, toasted over medium heat until fragrant and slightly darkened

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

2 teaspoons or more of red curry paste (you can find it ready-made in Asian stores)

1 cup unsalted whole cashews

1 cup unsalted whole pecans

1 cup unsalted whole almonds

3 tablespoons vegan butter or margarine (Earth Balance or Soy Garden)

1/2 teaspoon red chili puree (see below)

1 cup toasted coconut (see below)

Ingredients for red chili puree:

20 red dried thai chilies, stemmed, cut lengthwise, and most seeds removed

2 large cloves garlic

1 tablespoon water

2 teaspoons white vinegar

1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions for toasted coconut:

Dry-fry 1 cup sweetened shredded dried coconut in a small skillet over medium heat until lightly brown and fragrant, for 3-5 minutes. Toss it often as it browns so that it won't burn. When done, transfer it to a plate and let it cool. Then use or place it into airtight container and store it at room temperature until use.

Directions for red chili puree:

Break the chilies in half and place them into a small bowl. Add warm water to cover and let them soften for 30 minutes.

Drain the chilies and combine them with garlic, water, vinegar, and salt in a blender. Grind using pulses and stop occasionally to scrape down the sides, until it is a bright red coarse puree with some seeds still visible. Transfer to a small bowl and add a bit more water to soften the sauce if needed. The sauce should be a little thicker than applesauce. Place it into an airtight container and refrigerate until use.

Directions for spicy nuts:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In large saucepan or wok, combine the molasses, water, ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, toasted cumin, nutmeg, cloves, red curry paste, and red chili puree. Bring to a gentle boil over medium heat and cook while stirring, until a thin syrup forms, about 3 minutes.

Add all the spicy nuts and simmer over medium heat, stirring almost constantly, until the nuts have absorbed most of the syrup and are beginning to clump together - about 5 minutes. Add the butter or margarine and stir until it melts, about 1 minute.

Remove from the heat and spread the spicy nuts on a lightly greased baking sheet in one layer. Bake until the nuts are fragrant and the coat is bubbly, about 15 minutes. Remove the spicy nuts from the oven and sprinkle with toasted coconut. Set aside to cool and store in an airtight container.