Candied nuts are one of those things that are equal parts treat and snack, and are just at home in a bowl of ice cream as the are in a salad. Their versatility makes them a great gift and, with the help of a slow cooker, an extremely easy (and hands off) one to make.
Photos by Claire Lower.
If there was ever an ever-present Christmas confection during my youth, it was the haystack. Neither lolly nor cookie, this unassuming, almost too easy treat simply has no business being as addictive as it is.
Any slow cooker will work, but the bigger the better, as you'll need a good bit of surface area so the nuts can spread out, ensuring they cook at an even rate. Other than melting the butter, everything can be done in the slow cooker, including beating the egg white. To make these super snackable morsels, you will need:
- 3 cups of your favourite nuts (I used 2 cups pecan halves and 1 cup almonds)
- 3/4 cups brown sugar
- 1 egg white
- 1 tablespoon of melted and cooled butter
- 1 tablespoon water
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon powdered ginger
- Cooking spray
Add the egg white to your slow cooker and beat with a fork until frothy. Add everything but the nuts, and stir until you have a thick, homogeneous syrup. Pour in the nuts, gently stir to coat, and cook on low for three hours, or high for one. Stirring them every hour or so will ensure they cook evenly, but I almost never remember, and mine always turn out just fine.
Once your cooking time has elapsed, give them one more stir, then spread them out on sheets of baking paper or a silicone baking mat to set, giving them a good bit of room between each other. How long this takes will depend on the humidity level and temperature of your kitchen; mine took a little over an hour. Once they're dry to the touch - some slight stickiness is OK - package them in festive little parcels to give out, or hoard them all for yourself to be devoured while watching your Hallmark holiday movie of choice.