Candied Pecans

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Candied nuts are one of my faaaavorite things. And I don’t think I’m alone. Salads with candied nuts are on almost every restaurant menu, and for good reason– they usually catch the customer’s eye. Don’t know what I’m talking about? Next time you’re at a restaurant, see if they have a salad with candied nuts. Most likely it’ll be some variation of candied walnuts/pecans, cranberries, and goat cheese. Seriously, once you’re looking for it, you’ll be amazed how often this salad is on menus.

However, candied nuts are more than just a popular salad topping. They’re a great filling, healthy snack and despite what you might think, quite easy to make. Why go through the process of candying them yourself? Two reasons:

1. You can control exactly how sweet you want them and how much sugar you want to use.
2. They’re better quality and most likely cheaper, particularly if you buy them in bulk.

Candied Pecans
Makes about 2 cups.
Time: 25 minutes, 10 minutes inactive

  • 2 cups pecans (preferably pre-chopped, but not necessary)
  • 1/2 tablespoon coconut sugar, or to taste
  • 1 tablespoon brown rice syrup, or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Easy Alternatives
Don’t have coconut sugar and brown rice syrup and don’t feel like spending extra money on them? No worries. Nothing frustrates me more than when a recipe requires me to buy a whole new ingredient–an expensive one at that– and then after I make the recipe, it just sits in my cabinet for a good year, completely unused. So, in light of that, here are some alternatives you can use in place of some of these more unusual ingredients.

Alternative sweeteners:

  • instead of coconut sugar, use xylitol, brown sugar, evaporated cane juice or regular sugar

  • instead of brown rice syrup, use honey, maple syrup, or agave

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

If the pecans you bought aren’t pre-chopped, chop the pecans by using either a food processor or knife.  If you’re someone that likes to cut the corners and don’t mind if the pieces are a bit uneven, go with the food processor. If you’re a bit type-A and want the pieces to be more uniform, go with the knife.

Put pecans in a bowl and add the remaining ingredients. Toss the pecans with your hands, trying to evenly coat the pecans in the sweetener and salt. Taste to see if the level of sweetness is to your liking (and add more if you want it to be sweeter).

Spread pecans out over a baking sheet that is sprayed with oil. Put pecans in the oven for about 5-10 minutes, until the pecans are just slightly browned and quite fragrant. Check after 5 minutes. Every oven is different, and the last thing you want is burned pecans, so it’s better to be safe than sorry.

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