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There was a time when I would get really elaborate with my holiday baking.  I mean, I actually collected fresh walnuts, cracked and roasted them, then turned them into chewy caramels dipped in dark couverture chocolate. They were awesome, people bartered and stole for them at work, and then they were gone. These days my Christmas baking looks more like a bulk batch of roasted nuts, and you know what? They are also pretty awesome, and they don't take a trained chef an entire day to make.  Plus with half of my to-bake-for list off gluten, or dairy, or eggs... the vegan and 'gluten freeness' of these makes them pretty appealing as well.

This recipe has only 5 ingredients, takes little time to prepare and makes over 12 cups of finished nuts. To make them you will need:

  • 12 cups whole, unsalted nuts
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup pure maple syrup

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Line one baking sheet with parchment paper, leaving an inch or two hanging over the edges. 

Stir nuts*, spices** and salt together until the nuts are nicely dusted.  You'll want to do this first to prevent the spices from clumping up in the syrup.  Add the syrup and stir until the nuts are evenly coated, pour onto prepared baking sheet in a thick even layer.  Make sure you really scrape out the bowl otherwise a good amount of the syrup/spices will be left behind.

Place the nut filled tray in preheated oven and roast for 15 minutes.  Remove tray from oven and give the nuts a really good stir (this is where that extra large piece of parchment paper comes in handy, keeping things neat and tidy) pop the tray back in the oven and continue to roast for another 20-25 minutes , stirring every ten minutes or so until the nuts are deeply golden and quite dry, with a good crust of sugar and spice.


Let cool completely on the tray, stirring a few times to keep them from sticking, and pack up in something fun and festive.  Now relax and spread some delicious holiday cheer. 


* As for the nuts, I used a mix of walnuts and pecans (walnuts are my favorite, but the pecans were on sale) which can easily be replaced with whichever nut or blend of nuts you like, just keep the same amount as listed

** For the spices, you can really have fun here adding your own blend of spices like ground ginger, anise, cumin etc.  This version has a bit of kick with a slightly salty hit, perfect for snacking and with beer or cocktails.  For a sweet version, omit the cayenne and add an extra 1/3 of a cup maple syrup.

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