Cinnamon Pecans – to the Rescue

Yesterday’s dreary weather was causing me to question all my “Celebrate November” promises. I was going through a serious struggle not to turn on some Christmas music and light my evergreen candle.

As I stared out the window and into the fog that was hiding pretty much every building around me, I realized that I knew exactly what today needed:  A Baking Adventure!

Now my husband is still working on this “diet” thing, so my options were pretty limited, unless I planned on giving away all my goodies…and that’s no fun! So, I headed out to the grocery store in search of inspiration.

I walked in the door and the pecans and almonds were on right there waiting for me…on SALE! (That never happens at my grocery store!).

I took it as a sign and grabbed a container of almonds and pecans…what’s the point of a sale if you don’t end up spending more than you planned? (Ugh, marketing! Gets me every time).

I remembered all the ingredients of my mom’s Cinnamon Pecan recipe, but I couldn’t locate it when I got home. Luckily, Google delivered a good option after my somewhat specific “cinnamon pecans egg white sugar cinnamon salt” search.

I just noticed that Cooking Classy posted this recipe exactly one year ago yesterday (but today…as I’m typing. Kinda crazy!) I’ll take that as a sign that Cinnamon Pecans are the perfect November Celebration, to fill my home with crazy delicious scents on this dreary day.

Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients

1 lb pecan halves
1 large egg white
1 Tbsp water
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt

Directions

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, vigorously whisk egg white with water and vanilla until very frothy. In a separate small mixing bowl, whisk together sugar, cinnamon and salt. Add pecans to egg white mixture and toss until evenly coated. Pour half of the sugar mixture over pecans and toss several times then add remaining sugar mixture and toss until evenly coated. Pour coated pecans over a parchment paper lined baking sheet and spread into an even layer. Bake in preheated oven 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Allow to cool then store in an airtight container.

Recipe Source: adapted from allrecipes.com

I mostly stuck to the plan…but I made a of couple necessary changes, and have a few helpful hints to pass on.

First, I collected my ingredients (making sure I had enough of everything before getting started). Far too many baking attempts have resulted in throwing away batter after realizing that I was out of flour or eggs before I had already begun the mixing process.

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As luck would have it, the recipe called for a pound of pecans, and my container was only 12 ounces (but don’t worry I had a plan for that).

The scariest part was next – attempting to separate the egg white from the yolk. I usually find success with the flip-and-flop egg white separation technique (why yes, I’m pretty sure that’s an official name), but in case you need a little further explanation, see this video.

Luckily, my egg technique was on target today and we had a successful separation.

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Then the whisking could commence:IMG_1539

I don’t recommend attempted to take photos while whisking…unless you plan to cinnamon sugar your phone. I do recommend getting your egg white nice and foamy, like the photo below.

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In a third bowl, combine the sugar, cinnamon and salt. Before you wonder, I definitely used cinnamon this time. I even took a photo for proof – although, cayenne pepper might be a fun touch to add to these nuts the next time I make them!

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It’s time to fully coat your pecans in the egg white mixture. My mixture was looking especially gooey (which was probably because I used 12 oz. of pecans instead of the 16 oz. the recipe required). No worries, I simply added in a few handfuls of the raw almonds to soak up the extra juice.

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Adding the sugar mixture in two portions, helps to evenly distribute the sugar (but if you are in a hurry, you could do it all at once without any serious consequences).

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This is where I start to get excited. The incredible cinnamon smell is already filling the kitchen and the pecans and almonds look delicious! (But don’t try one yet, they have raw egg white on them!!)

I used a jelly roll pan instead of the cookie sheet that the recipe calls for above. This allowed me to actually stir the nuts without making a huge mess/losing all of the nuts in the oven. I also covered my jelly roll pan with aluminum foil (instead of parchment paper) because that’s how Mom always did it, and I know it’s strong enough to hold up to the task.

Do not attempt to make these without a cover on your baking sheet! You will regret your decision while you work on cleaning that thing for days (and you might lose a few pecans too!).

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And now, it’s into the oven! Get ready to enjoy the best smelling hour and 15 minutes ever! It’s like having a Nuts for Nuts cart in your house!! (See here if you have no idea what that means).

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I stirred my pecans and almonds twice during the baking process. I probably only needed to stir them once, but I couldn’t resist opening the oven with 15 minutes to go and giving them one more stir for good measure.

The Cinnamon Sugar Pecans (and Almonds) are finally ready! Just carefully loosen them from the foil and be sure to grab a bite while they are still warm.

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They don’t photograph that well (or maybe I’m not the best iPhone photographer) but they sure do taste good!

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Thankfully, these cinnamon pecans kept me from breaking my November resolution after all. I’m feeling like I celebrated November quite well today (*shamelessly pats herself on the back). Now I just need some friends to come over and help me with these delicious morsels. :)

UPDATE: 

My Mom sent over our family recipe early this morning so I thought I would include it as well. It has half the sugar (and tastes JUST as good!)

Ingredients:

  • 1 egg white
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • 1 lb. pecan halves
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Mix egg and water together until foamy. Stir in pecans, until fully coated. In a separate bowl, mix together sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Pour over pecans. Mix together until pecans are well coated.  Pour into cookie sheet (covered with foil) to bake. Bake @ 250 for 1 hour to 1 hour 15min. 

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