These nuts are another cocktail party recipe. Yes, they are perfect for nibbling at a cocktail party, but I really say this because I picked up the idea at a cocktail party. Some ladies and I were standing around with our drinks, nibbling on a bowl of glazed pecans and chatting about various flavored nut recipes. One of the ladies remarked that her grandmother always made “these peanuts that she boiled in sugar syrup.” As is my wont, I asked for details. She didn’t know anything more, just that her grandmother used to fix up a huge kettle of peanuts boiling in sugar and
These ideas stick with me, long after the party is over. I experimented occasionally over the years, overthinking the idea as it turns out, until I got it right. Raw peanuts simply boiled in sugar syrup. These little gems are not as sweet as you might think, and the salt adds a nice balance to each bite. The peanut flavor really shines through. They will keep in an airtight container for quite a while, so they make a great little gift. But put a bowl on the bar, and your guests will gobble them up. I’ll admit, I made a batch on a Thursday to photograph over the weekend, and they were all gone before the camera came out.
Raw peanuts are the key. Ready-roasted ones will not soak up the syrup. Look for them in the bulk section of a health food store or market.
2 cups water
2 cups granulated sugar
4 cups raw peanuts
Preheat the oven to 350°. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets completely with non-stick foil, or foil greased with a light coat of oil.
Stir the water and sugar together is a large, high-sided saucepan. You want plenty of room for the peanuts, so you can stir them around and avoid the pot boiling over. Bring the syrup to a boil over high heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Stir in the peanuts and cook in the syrup, stirring frequently, until the peanuts absorb the syrup. This may take 20 – 30 minutes. As the process comes to the end, and almost all the syrup is absorbed, stir constantly to prevent scorching. When there is only a little syrup left in the pan, put the prepared baking sheets by the stove and very quickly transfer the peanuts to the pans using a slotted spoon. Shake the spoon to let any remaining syrup drip off. Keep the pot on the heat, being carefully of the really hot syrup. If you take it off the heat, and the peanut syrup will immediately seize up and granulate. Spread the peanuts out in one layer on the first pan, trying to prevent many from clumping up. You largely want individual nuts, not peanut brittle. Sprinkle a little table salt over the peanuts and place in the oven. Repeat with the remaining baking sheet. Bake the nuts for 10 – 12 minutes, until they are lightly golden. Rotate the trays between racks at 5 minutes so the bottom pan doesn’t burn.
Cool the nuts on the baking pans. You can break up any clumps with your fingers.
Makes 4 cups