(Note: this post was originally published on March 1, 2020. The date above reflects migration to the new platform.)
Welcome to spring! Well, almost. Now that we're into March, I'm super excited about everything spring, especially maple syrup. I'll be celebrating my love for maple syrup with these snackable, protein-loaded, unbelievably addicting Maple Rosemary Cayenne Roasted Nuts.
These nuts are a flavor explosion. They're sweet from maple syrup, but herbaceous and woodsy thanks to rosemary, and have a very subtle heat from cayenne. They're a perfect appetizer, happy hour snack, easily portable lunch item, or salad topping. You need these nuts in your life, and they only take about 25 minutes to make!
Maple Syrup Love
Being a native Vermonter, maple syrup is near and dear to my heart. My parents even make their own syrup and it's amazing! It's such hard work hauling all the sap around, boiling for hours on end, and eventually canning it for the year to come; I really admire all the time and energy they put into their sugaring operation. It all happens in a frenzied few weeks, usually in early March, although the timing depends on the weather.
Maple sap (i.e. what comes out of the tree during a few weeks of early spring) is only a few percent sugar whereas maple syrup should be 68% sugar according to Vermont regulations, so you do the math... it's a heck of a lot of boiling!
Maple syrup is, of course, delightful on its own. But the thing that makes these nuts extra special is infusing the maple syrup with rosemary and cayenne. It ensures that those flavors are distributed evenly across the nuts rather than clumped up, making each nut the perfect balance of sweet, herby, and spicy.
Make Them Your Own
There are numerous different ways you can customize these maple-kissed nuts. Use whatever combination of nuts you want (just make sure you're starting with raw nuts!). I've shown a combination of pecans, walnuts, cashews, and pistachios, but choose what you love.
You can also adjust the heat. As written, these are just barely warming, but you can omit the cayenne entirely if you're not into spice or amp it up if you want more.
Looking for a great homemade gift? I've packed up cute little bags of these nuts on numerous occasions! Because nuts are so rich, even a few handfuls is a special treat to share with friends or family members. Just make sure to cool them completely, then pack them into little bags or containers. They'd make for a great gift all year round, since these flavors can really work in any season.
Let's Talk Ingredients
Here's what you'll need for this recipe, as well as some thoughts, tips, and possible substitutions. If you make any substitutions, I'd love to hear about it in the comments section below.
Maple syrup. The star of the show! Make sure it's real maple syrup (ideally from Vermont, of course!).
Bourbon. I really love the flavor depth this adds, and the smell is incredible! I highly suggest including it (or any other whiskey, or even a dark rum). However, if you prefer not to use alcohol, you can use a splash of apple cider instead.
Cayenne. Feel free to adjust the amount as you see fit. As written, the nuts have a subtle kick. You can increase the cayenne if you really love heat, decrease it, or even omit it entirely for a no-heat version.
Raw mixed nuts of choice
Fleur de sel. This is a French flaky sea salt (and my greatest love!), although another flaky sea salt would be fine in its place.
One of my goals in this post is to convince you that maple syrup has so many more applications other than just as a topping for pancakes or as a baking ingredient. The complexity of maple syrup's sweetness is actually the perfect complement for savory flavors, such as the rosemary and cayenne in these nuts. It's a great salad dressing ingredient and a lovely glaze for grilled veggies or proteins.
Hope this recipe brings you some feelings of spring, which we call "sugaring season" in Vermont!
It makes me so happy to hear from you and see your creations! Please leave a comment below and let me know what you think about this recipe. If you post a photo on Instagram, hashtag #TheRogueBrusselSprout and tag me (@TheRogueBrusselSprout) in the post text so that I'm sure to see it.
Heaping 0.5 tsp fleur de sel or other flaky sea salt
Preheat the oven to 400 and line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a small saucepan over low heat, combine the maple syrup, bourbon, rosemary, and cayenne. Bring it to a boil, then reduce it to a low boil and keep it there for one minute. This will infuse the maple syrup with all of the other delicious flavors.
Put your nuts into a large mixing bowl, then pour the infused maple syrup over them and mix well.
Add the salt and mix again (adding the salt at the end prevents it from dissolving).
Spread the nuts onto the prepared baking sheet, giving them as much space as possible so that they cook evenly and don't clump.
Roast for ten minutes and then stir.
Roast for another five minutes and stir again.
Roast for another minute or two, stirring as needed, until the sugar on the outside of the nuts just barely starts to brown. Take them out a bit sooner than you think you need to since the sugar will keep browning on the hot baking sheet. Keep a very close eye on them at this stage!
Cool your nuts completely on the sheet, then store them in a sealed container.