I always think about candied peanuts come fall. Not that it’s fall yet – nope, I’m not jumping the gun on that yet! But when I was a kid there was always a beer nuts vendor at the Western Fair – the county fair in my hometown. I’d watch the nuts go from a gigantic steel pot to a trip around a conveyor belt and then they’d be packaged up in a small cellophane bag. The graphics of the booth and on the bag also held my attention as there were usually images of beer steins, Germanic lettering and Heidi-themed illustrations. This was some serious stuff! My mom always bought a warm bag and we’d dive right in when we got home.
Making your own candied nuts isn’t that difficult. There’s no need for a candy thermometer or a conveyor belt and all you need is a wooden spoon and a good stirring arm. As I’m all about the salty-sweet dichotomy, I started off with a tin of salted peanuts, but feel free to sub in whatever nut (salted or not) you fancy most. After whipping up a batch, I knew that I couldn’t be trusted to be alone with these nuts. They are so addictive! So I called up some friends and had them over to share in the calories. They ooooh’d and aahhhhh’d until the bowl was empty. Good stuff, I tells ya, and they end up so much tastier than any batch you’d find at the fair.
salty sweet candied peanuts
(adapted from eat make read)
2 c salted peanuts (or whatever mixed nut selection you fancy)
1 c sugar
1/3 c water
1 t kosher salt
1/4 t cinnamon
In a large pot, mix together the peanuts, sugar and water. Heat over med-high heat, stirring frequently, until everything starts to either look sticky (in my case) or sandy (in eat make read‘s case). Forge ahead! Let the mess get golden and keep stirring for goodness sakes!
About 8-10 minutes later, you’ll see a dark, sticky syrup start to pool. Don’t get distracted, that’s the magic. Keep stirring, but don’t let it burn. Once you’ve reached a nice golden deep colour, take it off the heat.
Stir in the salt and cinnamon and then dump the mixture onto a cookie sheet that’s been covered with parchment or silpat (to keep mess to a minimum). Let cool and then break apart and store in a covered jar.
Rumor has it that it will keep for a week. A day and a half is more like it.