Cocoa Candied Nuts

makes about 3 cups

This year I upped the fun factor on this mix and used a combination of pecan, almonds and Spanish peanuts. The last one making it taste like a handful of Cracker Jack, minus the popcorn, with every bite. I usually add a teaspoon of paprika for a mild spice, but decided to leave it out this year and keep this a 100% sweet snack. Feel free to add it back in (I’ve listed it as optional), or swap it out for cayenne or chipotle powder as I did for my Relish blog this month. For gift packaging ideas, take a look at this article I wrote for Cuisinart.

These are also gluten free provided you use a gluten-free cocoa (I use Guittard).

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon sweet paprika, optional
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 large egg white, at room temperature
1 tablespoon cold water
One pound assorted nuts

Preheat oven to 300ºF. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicon liner; set aside.

Add the sugars, salt, cinnamon, paprika, if using, and cocoa to a bowl and stir with a fork to mix well.

In a large bowl, whisk egg whites and water until frothy but not stiff. Add nuts and stir to coat well. Sprinkle sugar mixture over nuts and toss, or stir with a rubber spatula, until evenly coated.

Spread nut mixture into a single layer on prepared baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring halfway through. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 to 15 minutes; break up any large pieces. Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place, for up to two weeks.