I've used white sugar, brown sugar, frying pan, oven but they're gloppy and/or burnt.
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Have you used flour or some sort of starch to help the sugar source coat the nuts?
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I use a combination of brown sugar, maple syrup and melted butter to make the coating and it works really well.
Here's my recipe: http://food52.com/recipes...
(You can leave out the pretzels.)
Try this recipe. It's a Martha Stewart recipe which uses egg whites to coat then its first before adding the sweet and spice. It's Husband-Tested in my kitchen and works every time. http://fromaliceskitchen.blogspot.com/2007/12/spicy-pecans.html
Add some butter and baking powder or baking soda to your syrup after it's done and OUT of the heat.It will get fluffy and airy.It should be easier to coat and taste great...but I'm afraid you'll loose the shiny effect this way.
Forgot to tell to whisk fast and not to panic when it rises.It becomes like a foam.
Yes, I agree with eggplayer. I have made carmelized spicy nuts with the following proportions: 1 egg white, 1 t. water, 2/3 c. sugar, 4 c. nuts which have been roasted, salt to taste, spices of your choosing. I like some sweet spices like cinnamon, and then some kick from cayenne. Mix beaten egg white, sugar, salt, and water together. Add nuts. Spread onto cookie sheet and roast at 250 degrees for an hour or a little less. Use parchment paper or silpat. Yummy!
drbab's combination of brown sugar , maple syrup and butter is the winning combination for me. I have more luck baking in the oven on parchment paper at 350F than using a frying pan. One of my favorite recipes is Bourbon Rosemary Pecans http://therunawayspoon.com/blog/2010/12/bourbon-rosemary-pecans/ that doesn't use butter or maply syrup. I also like to use walnuts.