Nuts, nuts, nuts. I am pretty sure I’ve mentioned this a handful of times before now – I love nuts. With the holidays approaching I get even hotter and heavier about the things, because Christmas growing up in England meant nuts – at least at our house. All kinds of nuts from salted peanuts to sugared almonds; and masses of fresh nuts still in their hard, brown winter coats. Every Christmas Eve, out would come the nutcrackers and large wooden bowls brimming with unshelled nuts – brazils, walnuts, cobnuts (hazelnuts), and almonds. As a family we sure put those nutcrackers through their paces, but mostly it was my father and I who took first place in the nut-cracking and devouring stakes. From my mother I inherited a desire to cook, a mind like a steel trap when managing the household budget, a sweet tooth, and a penchant for ironing everything – and I mean everything – that comes out of the washing machine. From my father I inherited mad driving skills, silky fine hair, a lifelong fascination with psychotherapy, and a love for nuts.
When I lived in Australia I used to send Care Packages of indigenous foods to my parents back in England. My mother would get parcels of ginger – prepared every conceivable way you can imagine ginger could be – from the Buderim Ginger Factory in Yandina, Queensland. My father would get parcels of nuts. I remember the note I got after sending him a box crammed with all things macadamia – chocolate covered, roasted and salted, raw, and even some still in their shells. “Thanks for the macadamia nuts. Those things are something else – I broke 3 sets of nutcrackers and ended up clobbering them with a sledge hammer on the terrace to get the shells off.” Yes, my father and I, we love nuts.
I’ve added pecans, pine nuts, pistachios, coconut, chestnuts and cashews to my list of nutsome favorites since then. Turns out my nutty upbringing was just getting me ready for my calling in life – creating SANE stuff for all you lovely people out there in the land of eat-more-and-exercise-less, smarter. Do you even have any idea how many pounds of almonds I’ve gone through in the last few weeks while I’ve been conjuring up biscuits and scones and cookies and other baked deliciousness with no grains in them? Or how many total pounds of nuts and seeds I’ve consumed creating hot cereal, cold cereal, granola, and all manner of other nutty seedy delicacies for you? I am not complaining, in the least. Truly, I love nuts.
It was hard not to think about the holidays approaching while wandering the decked-out aisles down at Trader Joe’s the other day. I looked at all the pre-packaged nuts – the Honey Sesame Almonds and the other bags of sugar-laden nut morsels – and realized the world of nut snacks needs some *SANEity.
So just in time for the holidays, here’s some Caramel Orange Spice Cashews. They’re awesome. Festive, slightly sweet, a touch of zing, crispy, crunchy nuggets of nutty gloriousness.
Eat them instead of candy. Eat them instead of plain nuts. Eat them instead of those other nuts loaded with sugar or honey or whatever sweetness they come dunked in. Grab a handful for dessert. Throw some in your Greek yogurt for breakfast. Just remember they’re an addition to all those fabulous non-starchy veggies and proteins you’ve already downed. Or they’re a snack. They’re not the main deal. Munch on them accordingly.
- 1 egg white
- 1/4 cup / 2 fl oz. sugar-free caramel syrup
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp orange extract
- 1 lb / 450g cashews
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3 tsp cinnamon
- 2 oranges – zest only
- In a large bowl whisk egg white, syrup, vanilla and orange extracts until frothy.
- Add cashews and stir until nuts are evenly and well coated.
- Add salt, cinnamon and orange zest and toss until cashews are completely covered.
- Spread nuts out onto a foil-covered baking sheet.
- Bake at 350F for 25 minutes until deep, golden brown, stirring the nuts to separate them every 5 minutes.
- Leave to cool completely before storing in an airtight jar.
JulieAmazing! These just came out of my oven. I finally tracked down the sugar free caramel syrup at Starbucks. Turns out they sell these syrups, but don’t have them out on the shelves. I burned mine just slightly but they are great! I wasn’t sure if I should adjust the cooking time b/c my cashews were raw. I think I also need to calibrate my oven.
carrieI know I need to calibrate mine….too busy cooking! I have to be really careful not to eat too many of these in one sitting!!
KatiHi Carrie. I love listening to you and Jonathan every week. It seriously is a highlight for me! Unfortunately I have a miserable challenge being SANE – I’m allergic to eggs, white and yolk, chicken and duck, so I really can’t do anything with them. I have a powder substitute I can use for cooking, but I don’t know about using it when it’s a primary component. Will it work with this recipe well enough? Of do you have another substitution you would suggest trying? Thank you!!!!!
carrieKati – just leave the egg out and either add a little extra syrup or a little water. The egg white is just “glue”, it will be fine without. You lose out on a little protein, but that’s ok. Thanks so much for your podcast love and support!!
Carole HuxmanAre the cashews to be raw, or roasted, salted?
carrieCarole – raw.
I’m also an ex pat, now living in Northern California. What kind of suger free syrup did you use? The Starbucks/Toranis kind or the thicker Smucker’s type?
carrieHi Kara!! I use Torani sugar-free syrups. Great to “meet” you!
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NancyI made these nuts for Christmas Eve along with Carrie’s Chocolate Espresso cookies and some inSANE Christmas goodies. To my surprise (and disappointment because I was hoping to hoard them for myself) these nuts and the Chocolate cookies were the first to go.
This nut recipe is super adaptable. I didn’t have cashews so I substituted half raw almonds and half raw pecans. I didn’t have the caramel syrup so I used the sugar-free vanilla instead.
carrieOh, Nancy – your comment made my day! I LOVE that people who didn’t know they were eating “health” food chose it over the normal stuff :-)) If that doesn’t make you feel good about staying SANE, and not worrying about what others think, I don’t know what will. Good call on the nuts for using what you had available.
MVPI finally got around to making these, and boy are the delicious! We are going through these like crazy at my house. And when you are baking them the house smells like orange cinnamon rolls, its heavenly!
carrieDon’t go mad now…a gal canot live on nuts alone ;-)