My Haunted Library

All things spooky. Your source for paranormal and supernatural book and movie reviews, strangeography, Halloween crafts and a little cozy fall baking.


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Sweet & Spicy Candied Pecans

It is negative two degrees Fahrenheit outside right now, with a wind chill of negative thirteen. It’s warmed up a bunch since yesterday! With arctic air blowing in the new year, a chilly salad may not sound like the most appealing meal, despite your resolution for healthier eating.

Don’t despair! These candied pecans add a richly satisfying crunch of sweet and spice that will elevate your obligatory bowl of greens.

Granted, these delectable nuts probably aren’t that healthy, and you’ll most likely end up eating them straight out of a bowl as a comfort snack but, hey. All things in moderation.

These nuts are super-easy to make, and your house will smell fabulous while they’re in the oven. They may also remind you of outdoor festivals –  like my winter favorite, the National Western Stock Show – cheerful events where they sell those cinnamon almonds (but these are better).  Happy times!

Sweet & Spicy Candied Pecans

Sweet & Spicy Candied Pecans. Yum.

Ingredients:

1 cup white sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon cayenne

1 teaspoon salt

1 egg white

1 Tablespoon water

1 pound of pecan halves*

* I used 8 oz for today’s batch. If you use fewer pecans, which is fine, you don’t have to change the proportions on the sugar mixture. You’ll just have a slightly heavier coating. Which, trust me, is not bad. Similarly, use the whole egg white and the full tablespoon of water.

 

How to Make Them:

Preheat your oven to 250F.

Mix together the sugar, cinnamon, cayenne, and salt in a bowl.

Whisk the egg white and the water together in a separate bowl until frothy. Really frothy.

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Put the pecans in the egg white mixture and toss well to coat.

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Remove the pecans with a slotted spoon, letting the excess egg white drip off, and put the pecans in the bowl with your spice mixture.

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Mix the pecans in until they’re evenly coated in spice.

Spread the pecans in a single layer on a baking sheet.

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Bake at 250F for one hour, stirring every 15 minutes, until they are evenly browned. Meanwhile, accomplish small tasks in those 15 minute blocks between stirring. Taking short, unsatisfying naps? Watering the plants? Starting a load of laundry? Watching almost all of a beloved episode of Hogan’s Heroes?

The image above left shows the pecans half-way through baking.  The photo on the right shows them at the end.

Remove them from the oven and let them cool a little bit.  I transferred them to some parchment paper to cool.

Then, snack away.  Or – save them for your salad!

Happy New Year, Everyone!


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Wickedly Delicious Russian Teacakes

I knew it was time to bake when I put on a beloved episode of Hogan’s Heroes and reached for a Russian Teacake. And I didn’t have one. Crushing.

From an early childhood, these two disparate things have gone together and somehow signify the holiday season, taking me back to a comforting time.

I think most people have some version of this cookie in their repertoire under a variety of names – Mexican Wedding Cookies, Pecan Balls – but I’ll share the recipe that my mom passed down. There is a little extra step that makes this one stand out on your cookie tray. Since these are one of my favorite cookies, I always double the recipe. They also freeze beautifully.

I know it is down to the wire for holiday baking, but if you have a little time today, treat yourself to a batch of these. You probably have the ingredients around, and these are a simple cookie to bake. If you don’t get to them for this holiday, don’t worry: you really don’t need an occasion. They’re delicious anytime. Enjoy!

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Ingredients:

¼ cup sugar

½ pound butter, softened

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 cups flour

½ teaspoon salt

2 cups finely chopped pecans

Confectioners’ sugar

How to Make them: 

Preheat your oven to 325 F. Cream together the sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla.

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Add the flour and salt and mix to a soft, smooth dough. Stir in the pecans.

Shape into 1-inch balls by rolling between your hands, and place them 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.

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Bake for 25 minutes until the cookies are firm and light brown on the bottom.

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This cookie is nicely light brown on the bottom: this batch is done.

Remove from the cookie sheet and gently roll in the confectioners’ sugar. Cool on wire racks.

Now, here’s the “something special” step: when the cookies are totally cool, roll them a second time in confectioners’ sugar.

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The cookies to the right and bottom middle have been rolled a second time in the powdered sugar…see how much snowier they are than the single-roll cookies!

This leaves them snowy and beautiful! Store in an airtight container or freeze.  Happy Holidays!

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