I love a flavorful toasted nut, but I have always found it difficult to get enough flavor into nuts without burning them, or the seasonings just fall right off. My solution has become to soak the nuts in a flavorful liquid then toast them until perfect. My Lemon Garlic Cashews were my first foray into this method, and these salty-sweet bourbon soaked pecans are another great example. I’ve been serving and gifting them for years, but have always been coy about revealing my secret – until now!
It is always lovely to have bowls of flavored nuts around at a party, on the bar or the coffee table. And nuts make great gifts that are always appreciated and useful. Find some nice craft bags and tie with a pretty ribbon and a nice label, or gift a small bowl filled with ready-toasted nuts and wrapped in cellophane. These freeze beautifully, so you can make several batches and freeze them so you’re always ready with a little gift. A word of advice though – this amount of pecans fits evenly in one layer on a standard baking sheet. If you want to make more, do it in batches – do not crowd the pan or the nuts won’t toast nicely.
Bourbon Rosemary Pecans
Regular table salt will dissolve better than kosher salt in the cooking liquid.
1 ¾ cup water
¼ cup bourbon or Jack Daniels
¼ cup packed light brown sugar
¼ cup table salt
3 sprigs fresh rosemary
¾ pound pecan halves
In a medium saucepan, stir together the water, bourbon, sugar and salt. Bring to a boil and stir until the sugar and salt dissolve. Drop in the rosemary sprigs, take the pan off the heat and leave to cool to just slightly warm.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. When soaking liquid is warm, remove the rosemary sprigs and drop in the pecan halves, stir well and leave to soak for 15 minutes, stirring several times. Drain the pecans through a strainer and pick out any stray rosemary needles. Spread the pecans in a single layer on the baking sheet, discarding any small pieces or chips behind, and sprinkle very lightly with kosher salt. Bake for 12 – 15 minutes until toasted and fragrant. Watch and smell carefully so they do not burn. Cool on the baking sheet.
Makes ¾ pounds of pecans