Stacey Aswad’s Spicy Candied Roasted Maple Pecans16
Well, I survived Storm Sandy in NYC, and am back in L.A safe and sound, feeling incredibly fortunate. My love and thoughts go out to the victims of this horrible tragedy, and my admiration and respect extended to the hard-working rescue and support teams that brought the city back to life! What a surreal time, walking up the street to Penn Station right before the storm without another human being in sight! Scott is living in Manhatten until Christmas, and I am flying back and forth. We are loving being honorary New Yorkers, and really experienced the enduring New York community spirit during this experience.
Scott came home this weekend for some meetings, and as we will be in NYC for Thanksgiving (at Candle 79 for their vegan feast -- Yipppeee!), we decided to host a holiday party and gluten free vegan potluck feast with all of our close friends and family. It was an incredible evening, full of love, laughter and delicious food. We served Pamela Elizabeth's Tofu Walnut Stuffing, Garlic Olive Oil Mashed Potatoes with Chives, Orange Cinnamon Sweet Potatoes with Candied Maple Pecans, Zesty Lemon Garlic Green Beans with Sliced Almonds, Ginger Cranberries, Green Goddess Salad, Pumpkin Torte, and Gluten Free Apple Pie. YUMMO! And yes, I will post some of these recipes in the next two weeks.
Everybody laughed and said, "This Holiday Dinner sponsored by Le Creuset!" as I always serve my holiday meals in my beloved Red and Green Le Creuset pieces that look so gorgeous and festive on the table. I wanted to share this joy with all of you, so one lucky reader has the chance to win a Le Cresuet Holiday Cookware Set in Cherry Red valued at $720 in this month's giveaway. I will announce the winner on Dec 11th, just in time to have the pieces shipped out for the holidays! Good Luck! :)
But back to the holiday FOOD! When discussing the menu with my dear kindred spirit, friend and partner in culinary crime Stacey (who you may remember from the Raw Spicy Cranberry Mousse post), she mentioned her Spicy Candied Roasted Maple Pecans. I make something similar and wanted to serve them with some vegetables purees. Inspired by Bryant Terry's post in this year's holiday issue of the Vegetarian Times, I decided to pair these roasted maple pecans with my mother-in-law Sandra's delicious Orange Cinnamon Sweet Potatoes for a decadent festive side dish. Stacey is an AMAZING chef, and the results were SPECTACULAR.
I always have so much fun cooking with Stacey, and rather than make them on my own, I sped around the corner to her house where she was cooking up a storm making her cranberries and pumpkin torte for the event, and we quickly made these together in less than fifteen minutes, left them to cool and solidify for another fifteen minutes, and then I was back out the door to make the Ginger Lemonade, Raw Eggnog, and find the Christmas decorations!
We deliberately left this recipe mild to complement the sweet potatoes. We liked the subtle notes of cinnamon with a hint of cayenne that hits you on the back end. But you could always double the spices for more of a kick if you are serving these for holiday nibbles. We served them both ways. They were a HUGE hit, with every last one disappearing in minutes! You could also use raw walnuts for this recipe, which also makes for a wonderful holiday treat. Either way, these quick easy morsels of heaven are TO DIE FOR, without all of the refined sugar of their traditional counterparts. These candied nuts would also make a fabulous topping for a pumpkin, sweet potato, or pecan pie; a sensational addition to ice cream or parfaits; and sensational holiday gifts in decorative jars.
One important thing worth mentioning when making candied nuts is that there is the "Coat and Roast" approach or the "Roast and Coat" technique. Stacey is a fan of roasting first and then coating, in order to get a fabulous uniform crunchy robust texture. I have always been a Coater and Roaster, and after tasting the difference, I am now a Roaster and Coater! There is a gorgeous smokiness that you can't beat. I can always count on Stace to set me straight! Honestly, the more time I spend with her, the more I wonder with jaw-dropping awe, "Is there ANYTHING this incredible woman can't do?" I swear, EVERYTHING she touches turns to GOLD!
As a celebrated dance graduate of the prestigious Julliard School in NYC; a five time national artistic roller skating champion; the face of Walt Disney World; an accomplished Host, Spokesperson, Actress, and Voice Actor for countless shows, industrials, documentaries and campaigns for some of the world's most recognizable brands (such as McDonalds, Toyota, AT&T, Clairol, Acura, and Time Warner Cable), and host of the wildly successful VO BUZZ WEEKLY, her own weekly webshow dedicated to the voice over industry, Stacey J Aswad creates magic everywhere she goes!
With her co-host and equally extraodinary partner, Chuck Duran -- one of the top voice over demo producers in America -- VO BUZZ WEEKLY features interviews with all of the major players in voice over -- famous voice over talent, highly respected talent agents, award-winning directors and producers, as well as technical experts. Previous guests include Nancy Cartright from The Simpsons, Bob Bergen, Scott Rummell, Beau Weaver, Joe Cipriano, Chris Borders (who directed me in Gears of War 3), Emmy Award-Winning Director Ginny McSwain, and my own lovely Scott Brick. If you want to get into voice over, or are interested in learning more about the talented people that voice your favourite animated TV Series, Video Games, Commercials, Narrations, Promos, Audiobooks, and Live Events, THIS is the place! We never miss an episode.
Stacey, I swear we are sisters from another mother. Scott and I love you and Chuck so much, and we feel so blessed to have you in our lives. Thankyou for graciously sharing your fabulous recipe, and for the help yesterday. You constantly inspire me with your talent, generosity and loving spirit.
Happy Holidays my friend!
Stacey Aswad’s Spicy Candied Roasted Maple Pecans
- 4 cups raw pecans
- 2/3 cup pure maple syrup
- 1 Tbsp filtered water
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon or more to taste
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg or more to taste
- pinch of ground ginger or more to taste
- pinch of cayenne pepper or more to taste
- pinch of Celtic sea salt or Himalayan salt
- Preheat oven to 180 / 350.
- Roast pecans for about 8-10 minutes until slightly crispy and fragrant.
- In a saucepan, heat the maple syrup and spices on a medium heat for about 5 minutes until warm and slightly bubbling.
- Add in the warm roasted pecans and the filtered water.
- Stir and fold through for about 3-4 minutes until the nuts caramelize and the mixture reduces and is completely absorbed.
- Lay the nuts out on a baking tray lined with parchment paper, and allow to cool and harden. This takes about 15 - 20 minutes.
- Devour warm, or store in an airtight container.
Piggy Cooking Tips
selecting the best raw walnuts
Raw unshelled walnuts are widely available in pre-packaged bags as well as bulk bins. Always purchase from a supplier where there is a high turnover to ensure freshness and quality. Look for walnuts that are uniform in colour. Avoid the limp and shrivelled ones. Walnuts should smell nutty and sweet. If they smell musty or rancid they are bad. Walnuts are extremely susceptible to rancidity due to their high polyunsaturated fat content. To preserve the precious oils, store walnuts in a sealed glass jar in the fridge for up to six months. Always soak walnuts before using to remove the enzyme inhibitors and make them more digestible.