Salted, caramelised nuts; a great skill to have up your sleeve – use to top desserts or bakes, or even just eat straight as they are!
These nuts are simply delicious. They are dangerously moreish and unfortunately simple. Sugar work is made out to be an extremely complex thing- but as long as you have plan white caster sugar and a thick bottomed, scrupulously clean pan it’s a doddle.
I first made these with Christmas in mind, but now find myself fantasising of all sorts of bakes which could involve these. You could use any nuts; I tried hazelnuts and pecans and both were brilliant. Think of the hazelnuts with delicious, vanilla ice cream. Think of pecans on a stack of pancakes!
I’m not going to give you the best step-by-step instructions of making caramel in this post. Perhaps I will at a later stage when I can master taking photos and watching the sugar like a hawk at the same time! If you’ve never done it before, I would take some time to google making caramel, so you get a feel for what to do – but the best thing you can do, by far, is practice. Be prepared that it might be slightly over or under caramelised the first time – but trust me, perfection will come quickly, and it is so worth it once you get there.
Takes 20 minutes.
- 100g caster sugar
- 100g hazelnuts (or nuts of your choice)
- Pinch of sea salt flakes
- Get yourself ready – take out a small to medium, thick bottomed saucepan (ideally not a non stick) and make sure it is completely clean. Get a teaspoon and small glass of water out and have it near your hob. Lay out a large sheet of grease proof paper, and leave out two forks. Make sure your nuts are to hand.
- Put the sugar in the pan, and set over a low heat until the sugar begins to melt. You will see it slowly start on the outside, and the sugar will go transparent at first.
- Do not stir the sugar! It is OK if it melts unevenly – you only need to act if the sugar at the outside starts to change colour and starts going golden whilst you still have some caster sugar unmelted in the middle – this is common, so don’t worry.
- If this happens, move the melted sugar around by tilting the pan. But don’t worry and tilt it too much, the sugar will melt.
- The caramel is ready when all the sugar is melted, and the caramel is a light golden brown colour. The caramel should not smoke – when the steam becomes a little more opaque and thick, the caramel will take on a slight bitter flavour.
- If you are not sure if the caramel should cook more, dip the spoon in the caramel, and then in the water. Taste it – it should be hard, and sweet but a little smokey in flavour.
- Immediately, tip in the nuts, and stir to coat. Add the salt, and then immediately tip the nuts onto the greaseproof paper. Do these steps as quickly as possible.
- Quickly, start pulling the nuts apart with the two forks. The sugar will create long strands between the nuts, but thats OK, we can pull those off later.
- Once you’ve separated as many of the nuts as possible, leave to cool for about 25 minutes at room temperature. Break off any long strands of sugar, and break apart any nuts still held together with your hands.
- Store in an air tight container for up to 1 week.