Sunday, January 4, 2015

Crock-pot Cinnamon Sugar Pecans, Almonds or Peanuts

I started making this recipe with almonds a while back, and they could hardly make it past drying before my husband, daughter and I ate them all! This Christmas I made them for a family dinner, and once again, there wasn't anything left by the end of the night. So I decided to make a few batches, bag them up and hand them out on Christmas day to family, friends and neighbors, and also tried out pecans and peanuts. They were all amazing! And since then, I've been asked for the recipe by lots of people. So, here it is!

I easily double the amounts to double the recipe sometimes, so that's an option if you plan on sharing these, but more than that wouldn't fit in my standard sized slow cooker. For Christmas I had two doubled recipes going in two crock-pots! :P

You will need:
- 3 cups of pecans, almonds or peanuts (or a mix-up of all of them!)
- 1  1/2 cups brown sugar (packed or loosely packed)
- 1 to 1  1/2 cups sugar (I usually just eyeball this and use organic cane sugar)
- 3 Tbsp. cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp. salt
- 1 egg white
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/8 to 1/4 cup water (start with less and add more if needed)

1. Mix your sugars, salt, and cinnamon in a large bowl.

2. In a separate bowl whisk egg white and vanilla until it becomes frothy. Mix in your almonds, pecans or peanuts and stir until all nuts are coated well. This helps the sugar and cinnamon to stick, so be thorough. You don't want a lot of extra coating in the bottom, so if you feel that there's too much leftover, add a small handful of nuts and stir again.

3. In your large bowl, mix your nuts into your sugar and cinnamon mixture and stir.

4. Prepare your slow cooker by spraying the inside bottom and sides with cooking spray, then add the sugared nuts and turn cooker to low.

5. Cook your nuts for about three hours, stirring every 20 to 30 minutes. In the last hour, stir in 1/8 - 1/4 cup of water. This ensures a hardened coating. But you don't want them too watery or they won't dry properly. You really need very little water, especially since the crock-pot will sweat a little during cooking and add some water of its own. But, if you don't add enough water then the sugar won't set right and will be messy, flaking away instead of creating a coating. The first time I made these, they were perfect. The next time I did a lot of eyeballing, and added way too much water and they never really dried. The next time, I didn't put enough water, and all the nuts in the bottom of the pot didn't have any coating. After that, I went back to following the recipe exactly, and I haven't gone wrong since, lol. In your crockpot, all of the nuts should look gooey. There shouldn't be any dry sugar in the pot, but there also shouldn't be excess 'goo'. I took a picture with my flash in hopes it would give you a better idea of what you should have going on. They shouldn't be any less gooey than these. This was bare minimum on water:

6. After your nuts have cooked with the added water for about an hour, spoon nuts out onto parchment paper. Try to separate them as much as you can so that they don't dry together in clumps. But this can be pretty time consuming (if you've say, quadrupled the recipe :P), so as long as you don't have clumps more than two or three nuts, it's not too big a deal. Some people prefer clumps anyway.

7. Allow nuts to cool and harden, and then they'll be ready for eating or packaging. You can pop them in the refrigerator if you place your parchment paper on a baking sheet or two and have the room, but my husband says he prefers them still warm and chewy, so it's just your preference!

Happy munching!
♥ Mother Bear

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