It has taken me a few weeks to face pecan shelling after my TEDx pecan shelling marathon. I spent most of a weekend hand shelling pecans for my contribution to the the crowd farmed TEDx catering. It was so very worth it to be part of something so exciting and inspiring, but what with being OCD about keeping every tiny bit of shell out, by the end of it I was totally over smashing pecans.
My pecans appeared at afternoon tea time in nougat, which was spectacular and worth all the cracking, but rather too sweet for me. I’m not a sweet tooth – give me a spicy chili salty sweet and sour balance any day. So I’ve been waiting to get back into a mood for smashing enough pecans to make these. Pecans are my glut crop, still, and though they will last in shell for a few months, fresh nuts do need to be eaten in season.
Beware – these are extremely addictive. Put a bowl of them within reach while you are watching a movie or reading or chatting with friends, and you keep swearing this will be the last handful all the way till they’re all gone. Which is not all a bad thing. We generally don’t eat enough nuts. There’s some very good science that a handful of nuts a day is very good for you. OK, so it’s impossible to limit these to a handful, but if you could, it would make them the ultimate guilt free indulgence.
Turn the oven on to heat up. I use my Rayburn wood fired oven, so I’m not very exact with temperatures, but it doesn’t need to be exact – you want a medium oven.
In a small pot, melt together:
- 2 teaspoons finely grated orange rind (grate the rind before you squeeze the orange, and it’s much easier)
- ¾ cup fresh squeezed orange juice
- 2 teaspoons of butter
- 3 big teaspoons of honey (or you could substitute brown sugar)
- 2 teaspoons garam masala
- ¼ teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
Cook for a minute or two to get it a bit syrupy, then add 3 cups of pecans.
Stir to combine well, then tip the spice coated pecans out onto an oven tray and spread them out evenly.
Bake for around 40 minutes. Watch them very carefully at the end. They go from undercooked to overcooked in minutes. Tasting is your best indication of when they are ready. The flavour changes and they get crisp and roasty and caramelised.
Cool on the tray, stirring occasionally to stop them clumping.
They will keep for quite a while in an airtight jar. I dare you.