Candied nuts are a Christmastime staple. Why is it that a little sugar and some spices instantly make the entire house smell like the Christmas season? Sugared nuts trace their history back to European traditions that involve pralines. Pralines are usually sugar-coated nuts, almost like a brittle. I love how a recipe transforms and changes with time, throughout different cultures, and through various iterations, leading to how we cook and bake today.
When I picture roasted nuts, I always think of festivals and Christmas markets full of vendors. And when I find myself at one, I can never resist. These cinnamon spiced nuts are reminiscent of the traditional cinnamon spice with a few extras to enhance the flavor.
When making candied nuts, I tend to choose a mixed nut. I love that mixed nuts add variety and how the craggier ones really attract the sugar and spices. What’s especially good is when some nuts get stuck together and form a clump. It’s a bigger bite and it usually seems to be even sweeter!
While these nuts seem like they would be tricky to make, they’re actually incredibly easy. And to prove this, I do all the mixing directly on a sheet pan.
A lot of times, only granulated white or brown sugar is used. But I find the coating that maple syrup adds provides the perfect crackly finish that’s simply missed when only using regular sugar. However, it is still important to add some sugar, so a small amount of brown sugar ensures the correct level of sweetness.
Spices are just as important as presents during the holidays. Let’s run through the important ones:
- Cinnamon is essential. Plain and simple. A lot of Christmas recipes use this spice and there’s good reason!
- Cloves add a strong, homey warmth.
- Allspice offers a hint of something that can’t be placed but its presence is very welcome.
The surprise in this recipe is a small amount of cayenne pepper. Instead of making the entire mixture spicy, it wakes up the taste buds and helps all the flavors stand out. A little bit of spice makes all the difference in these!
Spiced nuts are something that I always have at any get-together, especially around the holidays. But since this year is somewhat different (hello quarantine!), these nuts work perfect bagged up and given as a gift. If you’re looking for some last minutes gifts, you just got something you can make. You’re welcome! 😜
Watch how to make these cinnamon spiced nuts:
Cinnamon Spiced Nuts
- 4 cups deluxe mixed nuts
- ⅓ cup maple syrup
- 3 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 ½ tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp cloves
- ½ tsp ginger
- ½ tsp cayenne
- 1 ½ tsp salt
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. Spray the baking sheet pan with nonstick baking spray.
- On the prepared sheet pan, combine the nuts, maple syrup, brown sugar, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, cayenne, and salt. Stir together and spread into an even layer.
- Roast 12-15 minutes. The sugar thickens and coats the nuts. Remove from the oven. While cooling, stir intermittently to break up any large pieces. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 month.