Crispy Spice-Brined Pecans

By • October 25, 2010 • 82 Comments


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Author Notes: Here’s another spice-brined “crispy” nut recipe. These pecan halves are delicately flavored, to be savored one by one, slowly. (That’s actually not a bad way to eat everything else, of course.) Raw pecans are brined in a solution of salt, sweet spices and fresh orange peel, then dried and lightly roasted in a very slow oven. Your patience will be rewarded with a mildly-flavored nut with a beautiful texture. The method is based on one described by Sally Fallon in "Nourishing Traditions." Be warned: these are habit forming. Enjoy!! - AntoniaJamesAntoniaJames

Food52 Review: These spiced pecans -- unlike their sugar-shellacked counterparts -- are sitting, unassumingly, on a wonderful secret. At first glance, they appear raw and untouched, but one bite betrays that they're actually perfectly salted and spiced from within, and dried to a crisp. The long brining and low, low roasting technique takes only time and almost no effort. But here's another secret: those times can be approximated with little ill effect. Even with a couple hours shaved off each the brining and roasting times, these still disappeared from the jar. If you can't find mace, substitute nutmeg or try one of AntoniaJames' other, equally enticing crispy spiced nut recipes. - A&MA&M

Serves 2 cups of nuts

  • 2 cups of raw pecan halves
  • 2 teaspoons of sea salt
  • ½ of a cinnamon stick, broken into 3 or 4 pieces
  • ½ teaspoon ground mace
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 2 pieces of orange peel, each 1” x 3”
  1. Combine 1 ½ cups of boiling water in a glass or ceramic bowl with all of the other ingredients except the pecan halves. Cool to lukewarm, then stir well.
  2. Add the nuts and allow them to soak for 6-8 hours.
  3. Preheat oven to 150 degrees Fahrenheit.
  4. With a slotted spoon, remove the pecans from the brining liquid and spread them on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Remove the whole spices and the orange peel.
  5. Roast for 10-12 hours, stirring occasionally.
  6. Enjoy!!
  7. If by chance, there are any left, store them in a tightly lidded container.
  • This recipe is a Wildcard Contest Winner!

Tags: nuts

Comments (82) Questions (2)

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4 months ago BJ

I followed this recipe to the T. The nuts came out crispy but not tasting of much more than pecan flavor. I don't recommend spending the time.

Eac_victorian

5 months ago msophelia

wondering if these could go in a dehydrator, rather than an oven, as long as it hits the right temperature?

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5 months ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Yes! I haven't tried it, but I have no reason to believe that it wouldn't. You just need a very low temperature over a long period, to get the brined nuts nice and crisp. ;o)

Eac_victorian

5 months ago msophelia

excellent! will be trying these out soon. :)

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5 months ago Yaya

temperature of the oven?

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5 months ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

150 degrees Fahrenheit. ;o)

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8 months ago Hibatt

My oven only goes down to 175, will that be o.k?

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5 months ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Yes, it should be fine. You can probably cut the total time down; also, you can open the oven for about 30 seconds at the end of say, 6 hours, to let any residual steam out; give the nuts a light stir on the baking sheet and then shut the door with the heat off and let the nuts sit in the oven as it cools. ;o)

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8 months ago Danielle

The review mentions other recipes . . . where do I look? I can't wait to fill the pantry with brine-crisped nuts (might try with other varieties of nuts, if it goes well).

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11 months ago wkbeckman

How about adding dried chiles to the brine, or fresh jalapenos? Would that add some heat?

Monkeys

11 months ago monkeymom

I recently made a version with ground cayenne pepper and shallot powder, a very conservative 1/2 tsp of each. I liked using the ground because after I removed the nuts from the brine, I didn't rinse the nuts. As the nuts dried in the oven, the pepper and shallot powder residue that was left stuck to the nuts and gave them a very pleasant little coating. I wished I had put more cayenne in and will at least double it next time.

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5 months ago Chef Carlos

Great thought, I'll try the same approach. Gracias

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11 months ago beejay45

I think these would make an amazing pecan pie. I do love pecan pie, but zippy nuts instead of plain, wow! Thank you for this great technique, AntoniaJames.

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11 months ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Thanks, beejay45. I'm sure they'd make a great pecan pie, though you might lose some of their magical crispiness in a pie. I like putting them in a cookie inspired by a simple nut crescent recipe I inherited from my mother -- a favorite holiday cookie in many households. Here's the link to my crispy-cardamom brined pecan cookies: http://food52.com/recipes... . The nuts stay nice and crispy, making the cookies rather special. ;o)

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12 months ago John Burkholder

I used pecans. I have no info on how walnuts will work with this prep. The nuts that I made didn't stay around very long so I am sorry that I can't answer your question re how quickly the nuts will risk rancidity.

Flower-bee

12 months ago Droplet

AJ, I was wondering do you have any observations regarding how well these keep? I have about 5 lbs of walnuts from last season that were stored in their shell and I am cracking them today and tomorrow to finish them up in the next couple of months. If I treat a large portion of them as above, do you think they might go rancid fairly quickly? I just thought it would be nice to utilize the 12 hour oven time as best as I can with several trays at once, but don't want to waste so much material in case they don't keep as well. Thank you

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over 1 year ago John Burkholder

Wonderful nuanced flavor, better as the pecans age a bit. Great as a cocktail snack. Subtle orange/spice is there for your discovery.

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over 1 year ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

So glad you enjoyed them. I've been making spice-brined pecans with cardamom and nutmeg lately, and orange, which is a lovely combination as well. ;o)

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over 1 year ago Carolin HEstrada

If I use a convection oven should be less time baking?

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over 1 year ago Carolin HEstrada

Sorry... baking time?

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over 1 year ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

I make these in a convection oven. At this very low temperature, the time required is no different. ;o)

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over 1 year ago Abu Dhabi

Has anyone doubled or tripled this recipe? If I am cooking for 10-12 hours and making it as Christmas gifts, I'd love to make a larger batch.

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over 1 year ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Yes, you can make a double batch. I recommend though putting the nuts in the brine in separate bowls for each batch, and to spread them out on separate baking sheets. I.e., make duplicate, simultaneous batches. It's very important that there be plenty of room between the nuts on the baking sheet, to allow them to dry completely. Their crispiness results from the drying, so the more room you have between the nuts, the crispier they will be. Also, with the double batch, you have twice as much moisture in your oven, so be sure to open the oven door very briefly periodically (after the first half hour and then at least twice twice during the next few hours), to allow that moisture to escape. You'll be amazed at how much moisture these produce. ;o)

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over 1 year ago Chef Carlos

While these look interesting, somehow the 10-12 hr cooking time seems an impediment to time challenged cooks like moi. I may try them at 300 F for 30 minutes and see how they turn out

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over 1 year ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

They won't be crispy, I don't think. They need the long, slow, low-temperature heat to allow the moisture from the brine to cook off, leaving a dry nut. But do let us know how they turn out, if you try this! ;o)

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over 2 years ago RioMissPam

Saw this recipe from Pinterest and looks so yummy. Will be making these today.

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over 2 years ago Patrisha

Congrats on your win!! These sound yummy!! Going to make a batch using allspice since I am out of mace.

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over 2 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Thank you so much! Allspice sounds positively divine. I must, must try that. Do let me know how they turn out, please. ;o)

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almost 3 years ago SoTastyIWannaMarryIt

These look delicious and they give some ideas to change up another nut recipe that I have! Thanks! I can't wait to try these.

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over 2 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Thanks so much. I hope you do!! ;o)

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almost 3 years ago AntoninDevourChoc

These are killer.

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about 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Ooops, Mr T voted using my computer, and forgot to log out . . . sorry about those last two comments from him. They were actually from me. ;o)

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about 3 years ago aargersi

Abbie is a trusted source on General Cooking.

A friend gave us a giant bag of cracked pecans from her trees - looks like I need to make a batch too! Love these little guys ....

Mr_t_122509

about 3 years ago Mr. T

Yes, that sounds like an excellent idea, indeed. Fresh pecans! Aren't you lucky. ;o)

Audrey_and_sarah

about 3 years ago hennef7

Antonia,
I'm so excited! Because of your recipe, I found out that the Wolf Range that I've owned for 6 years, has a dehydrator option. The last time I made these, I used my convection oven, because I could set to the correct temperature, but it only stays on for 99 minutes, so I pretty much had to be there all day to keep adding time to the oven. Looked at my Wolf manual cuz I thought 170 was the lowest temp, and discovered the dehydrator function.
Thanks for the inspiration!

Mr_t_122509

about 3 years ago Mr. T

You're welcome, hennef7. And that is great news. Have fun!! ;o)

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about 3 years ago cannoli37

Do you think this would work with almonds? I have about 6 pounds of raw almonds and this recipe sounds fantastic!

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about 3 years ago cannoli37

It works deliciously!

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about 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Hey, thanks so much for letting me know. Did you use almonds with the skins on? I'm so interested, because almonds are the one nut I like with which I have not yet experimented. And I'm thrilled that it worked out for you so well. ;o) P.S. These keep for a good long time, once made, if stored in airtight containers. Lucky, lucky you.

Monkeys

about 3 years ago monkeymom

These are really amazing. I wasn't sure I was going to like them, but I just couldn't get enough of them as I kept 'checking' on them in the oven. Perfect just as is.

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about 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Thanks! And yes, I know about how important it is to "check" these nuts while they're cooking. Actually, it's almost impossible not to. I just posted a recipe for cashews with vanilla, bay, cumin and cinnamon. Thank goodness I roasted them overnight. The aroma in the house just about drove us crazy. ;o)

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about 3 years ago Stockout

Knowing you, I am sure you used your own homemade mascarpone also, right? I looked up Suz's tarts after reading about them and that crust looks great. Soon as I can get US grown berries around here I will have to make them. I like that she freezes them to make what she needs. When you cook for 1, anything per person freezable is a good way to go.

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about 3 years ago Stockout

OK, now I know I am obsessed with this site. I woke up thinking about these nuts and it hit me.........Grind them up and add them to a tart crust or a pastry dough. I wish I had seen these before food shopping. I wanted to make an apple tart with a nut crust and these pecans would have been PERFECT. Geez, woman, I can't keep up with all the goodies you make, and forget about the bread!!!

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about 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Thanks so much for these comments, Stockout! Take a look at the cookies I posted this week. Brilliant minds obviously think alike. I made a batch with cardamom instead of mace, then put them into a simple butter dough, derived from the nut crescents many people (including me) make during the holidays. I'm about to make a batch of cashews with the cumin/bay/vanilla combo I like so much. The possibilities are endless. And later today I'll put a handful of the cardamom pecans in the crust I'll be making for small fruit tarts using ChezSuzanne's terrific recipe, which has a lemon mascarpone filling, but I'll be topping them with blueberries (raw pack that I put up last summer, thickened with a bit of cornstarch) . . . . ;o)

New_years_kitchen_hlc_only

about 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

And just to follow up . . . I did grind a few, though they were spiced with cardamom instead of mace, and added them to the outstanding tart crust in ChezSuzanne's Strawberry Tarts with Lemony Mascarpone Filling, to make blueberry tarts for Mr. T's birthday on Sunday. The nuts made the crust a bit more rustic, but it tasted really good. The mascarpone cream is amazing, too. ;o)

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about 3 years ago Stockout

I know it is late but CONGRATULATIONS on your win!! Soon as I catch up on all the great recipes I have missed in a month of sundays, I am sure I will find a use for these wonderful nuggets. Great recipe....as always.

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about 3 years ago drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

OK, AJ, my pecans are soaking right now in a divine smelling brine. I didn't have mace so I used allspice. Will let you know how they turn out!

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about 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Can't wait to hear what you think of them The allspice sounds fabulous. I really like allspice, so I'll have to try it. Many thanks. ;o)

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about 3 years ago drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Now in the oven. The lowest my oven will go is 170 so I'll probably turn it off after about 8 hours.

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about 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Good idea. If it's not too inconvenient, you might want to open the oven occasionally to bring the heat down. Actually, you should be turning them occasionally but maybe leave the oven door open just a bit longer when you do. Also, if your oven is very well insulated, like mine, you could turn it off and leave the nuts in the oven with the door shut after the seventh or eighth hour, if they're not too brown. They need more time to get extra crispy. ;o)

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about 3 years ago drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

I just saw your message, but that's exactly what I did. I turned them off after 8 hours and let them sit in the oven overnight. The are wonderful--I can't stop eating them. I'm looking forward to trying this technique with other flavor combinations.

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about 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Thanks, everyone. I hope you all try these, and the other two that I've posted (rosemary walnuts and ginger-tamari cashews). I'm brewing up a couple of new combinations, which I hope to post tomorrow, if they taste as good as the brine smells . . . . . ;o)

Fire

about 3 years ago WFO Opa

I have a dehydrator with a fan. Would that dry the pecans too much?

Monkeys

about 3 years ago monkeymom

Yay AntoniaJames! congrats!

Hib_kitchen

about 3 years ago MyCommunalTable

Congrat on the Wildcard win! Well deserved. Never heard of this technique before. Thanks for sharing.

Jampro

about 3 years ago Bevi

Congrats AJ! These look divine!

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about 3 years ago gingerroot

Congrats, AJ! These sound amazing. I am always looking for good spiced nut recipes (especially pecans - they are my favorite) and now I have a fabulous looking one to try.

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about 3 years ago dymnyno

Cogratulations!!

Sausage2

about 3 years ago fiveandspice

Emily is a trusted source on Scandinavian Cuisine.

Wow! I'd never even heard of brining nuts, but these sound amazing! Huge congratulations AJ!

Christine-28_small(1)

about 3 years ago cheese1227

I saved these when you first posted them. I surely must make them now! Congrats.

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about 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Thank you so much everyone, and especially, The Editors. What a lovely surprise! When I posted this and the other crispy nut recipes, I hoped that someone might enjoy these. ;o)

Ozoz_profile

about 3 years ago Kitchen Butterfly

Congrats AJ, I will have to give this delish recipe a go - I heart the orange peel and pecans are by far my favourite nut.

Winnie100

about 3 years ago WinnieAb

I love that you expounded on the Nourishing Traditions technique. And turned these into a wildcard winner. TOO COOL!

Ozoz_profile

about 3 years ago Kitchen Butterfly

Winnie, thanks to you I bought Nourishing Traditions in the summer. A book I'd longed to get for 5 years.

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about 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Winnie, I though you might like this. Many of us are grateful that you introduced us to "Nourishing Traditions," which is such an interesting resource. ;o)

Mrs._larkin_370

about 3 years ago mrslarkin

Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.

Congrats AJ! These sound fantastic!! They'd be perfect in this week's winning salad!!

My_love-1

about 3 years ago Table9

This is amazing! I cannot believe I never thought of it as much as we use pecans for our students' Pecans! project. Cannot wait to try it!

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about 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Table9, I hope you can use this method with your group. I am not aware of anything like these commercially. I jumped on the technique the minute I first saw it because I particularly like flavored pecans, but the ones I'd had were always covered in salt or coated with too much sticky-sweet stuff. (Sorry, but when I eat a nut, I really don't want a sugar rush to follow.) In fact, it was a large box with three different fancied-up pecans from Georgia we received last year, which were tasty but unbearably sweet, with strong orange and nutmeg notes, that led me to create these. You could go more savory with these, too, using for example thyme and marjoram, or orange and rosemary. Have fun!!! ;o)

Ashtaco

about 3 years ago wanderash

this is such an interesting recipe! congrats!!!

Phoenix

about 3 years ago Phoenix Helix

These seem like a great gift idea! Now, I'm off to search the website for your other nut recipes that A&M mentioned....

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about 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Thank you and yes, these make the perfect gift, especially to pack and send, as they are very light, and they're not breakable, as so many cookies are. Plus, they're not sweet, which many people appreciate, especially during the holidays. ;o)

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about 3 years ago thirschfeld

absolutely brilliant, congratulations

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about 3 years ago drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Congrats on your Wildcard win! I love pecans--can't wait to try this!

Lnd_jen

about 3 years ago lastnightsdinner

Congrats on your Wildcard win! These sound like a perfect addition to a salad or accompaniment to a cheese course.

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about 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Thanks, and you're so right, these do very well in salads and to nibble on with cheese. Their light and crispy texture makes them particularly well suited, in both instances. When using them, or any other "crispy nuts" in salads, though, I always sprinkle them on after the salad has been dressed, to keep them nice and crunchy. ;o)

Gator_cake

about 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Congrats, AJ! These sound awesome.

Newliztoqueicon-2

about 3 years ago Lizthechef

An original technique that makes a well-deserved winner!! Congratulations, AJ!

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about 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Thank you so much. Well, the technique of brining and roasting is not original, but the flavor combination and description of the procedures is mine. What I love about this is that the method can be used for any combination of flavoring agents and nuts. I can't wait to see what others do with it. ;o)

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about 3 years ago aargersi

Abbie is a trusted source on General Cooking.

YAY AJ! These most assuredly deserve a spot in THE BOOK!!!!

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about 3 years ago Midge

Congrats AntoniaJames! These sound wonderful.

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over 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Yes, soak them overnight and put them in a slow oven all day. Actually, the spices go in the brine, then you pick the spices out when you roast the pecans. The flavor of the spices is infused into the pecans during the soak. You could, I suppose, roast the orange peel and see what happens. You wouldn't want to eat the roasted cinnamon stick or cloves, and the mace is ground up . . . . Taste one of these and you'll see how much nicer it is to get that delicate flavor without the harsh hit of the actual spices themselves, which so often is the case with spiced nuts. ;o)

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over 3 years ago aargersi

Abbie is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Oh yum - OK so I could put them in the brine right before bed, then roast them all day the next day ... I think I actually have everything in house, if so, will make these tonight / tomorrow!!! You roast the spices alongside the pecans right?