Showing posts with label Candied nuts. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Candied nuts. Show all posts

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

New York Nuts for New Years (the candied kind) from Cleo Coyle

We were hit with a little snow
here in New York City...

No, this is not my car. 
If it were, I would opt for
public transportation until April.

Shovel, shovel, shovel....

Even the NYPD got stuck. Our street is one way.
This police van is going the other.

By the way, this photo was taken
12 hours
after the storm ended.
City services? Hello! We do love the NYPD,
but snow removal experts they're not.
Send a snow plow, a salt truck, something!

Cleo Coyle, New York nut,
and author of the
Coffeehouse Mysteries

So while we're waiting for the plow to come, let's consider New York nuts. It's a fact. People do crazy things in New York—like stand outside for hours on December 31st to watch a big ball drop at midnight. I’ve done it. My husband’s done it. Almost everyone who lives in NYC has done it, and most of us have done it only once. Why? Because it’s nuts!

Photo courtesy Times Square
and Countdown Entertainment, LLC 

It’s nuts because you have to get to the location eight to ten hours early and wait in freezing cold temperatures until the clock strikes midnight. It's nuts because, post 9/11, you aren't allowed to bring a backpack, a bag, or even a bottle of champagne. It's nuts because a bathroom break is nearly impossible. If you leave Times Square to hit a public facility, you won't be allowed back in. (More tips for seeing the Times Square ball drop here.)

In case you were wondering (because I was), the Times Square tradition actually began back in 1904 as a Don Draper-style marketing ploy to showcase the newly erected New York Times Building. Before then, people traditionally gathered at Trinity Church at the corner of Wall Street and Broadway to sing songs and wait for the church bells to ring at midnight. That first Times Square celebration drew 200,000 people. The organizers provided fireworks but no ball. Finally, in 1907 the ball was added and, with the exception of some years during World War II, has continued to drop annually to this day when it draws a physical audience of one million and a global televised audience of one billion. (More here.)


There is a foodie analogy here but not a happy one...

For some time now, my husband and I have heard raves about the "famous" bar nuts served at New York's Union Square Cafe. Okay, Nathan's hot dogs we've heard of. Egg creams, check. Black and White cookies, yes. Junior's Cheesecake, of course. But we never heard of these "famous" bar nuts before they were featured on the Food Network's My Favorite Things.

That Don Draper power of sell worked well on me. "Let's try the recipe and link to it!" I told my husband, Marc. (Click here to see the recipe but keep reading because I don't recommend it.) Marc and I read the recipe and trekked to the green grocer to buy the ingredients. We followed the directions exactly. Finally, we tasted them. Oh, nuts! Not good. Not good at all! Rosemary is a lovely spice. I use it often in my kitchen (see my recipe for Rack of Lamb with Rosemary and Lemon here). But in this recipe, the piney rosemary completely overwhelmed the flavor of our beautiful, fresh nuts. We also thought tossing the nuts in butter after they were toasted took away some of the crunch that we really think is essential to enjoying a nutty snack.

What to do?

Because I really wanted to blog a nutty snack recipe in honor of our New Year's nuts, I turned to another famous New York nut -- the candied variety. Here in the city, you'll find hot, freshly sugared nuts cooked right on local vendors' carts. David Lebovitz does a version here that will work with whole, round, raw nuts like peanuts or almonds. Today, I'm going to share my own quick and dirty version that works better for walnuts, pecans, cashews, and chopped hazelnuts (the kind of nuts that have nooks and crannies).

Finally, if you have a favorite nut recipe to share for New Year's Eve snack bowls, by all means tell me about it in the comments section or leave a link. (I just hope it doesn't include rosemary!)

Cleo Coyle's
New York Nuts


Any combination of...

Walnuts, pecans, cashews, and/or chopped hazelnuts (see my note)*

Butter (see below for amount)

Light brown sugar (ditto)

*Nuts not to use in this recipe: almonds, Brazil nuts, peanuts. The almonds are too bitter, the Brazil nuts too big, and the peanuts not a mild and sweet enough flavor to work well here.

Ratio: For ever 1 cup (in volume)* of nuts, use 1-1/2 Tablespoons of butter, and 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed. *(By weight: 4 ounces or about 100 grams)

Directions: Place nuts in warm skillet and toss over medium-high until nice and hot. Add butter and continue tossing to coat the nuts. Before butter is completely melted, add the light brown sugar. Continually stir the nuts and sugar in the skillet until the sugar melts. Pour the hot, candied nuts onto a baking sheet that's been covered in parchment paper. Scrape any remaining syrup over the nuts and spread evenly into one layer.  When the nuts have completely cooled and dried, break apart any large clumps and eat with joy!

An important question: Why not just melt the butter and sugar together in the skillet and then add the nuts? While this method will work, I find that working the undissolved sugar into the nooks and crannies of the walnuts, pecans, cashews, and/or chopped hazelnuts gives a much more delightful result. Also, warming the nuts in the hot pan will partially toast them, bringing out their flavor, as well.

New Year,


~ Cleo Coyle, author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries

To get more of my recipes, win free coffee,
or find out more about my books, visit me
 at my *virtual* coffeehouse:

Click on the book covers above
to learn more about Cleo's culinary mysteries.