I really don't know how Christmas managed to sneak up on me unawares again, but here we are with just a few days to go, i've not finished my Christmas shopping, the presents still aren't wrapped, the tree is up (Complete with hand lettered bauble by Kayleigh Tarrant) though I had to be forced into getting one. I have a small mountain of festive baking orders to complete, which i'm looking forward to creating, however my oven has decided to give up the ghost. I also promised myself weeks ago I'd share a couple, if not several recipes for festive gifts here. Sadly, it was not to be. However I would like to share with you what's been happening over the last few weeks, as well as working hard (Christmas + catering industry = crazy times!) there's been plenty of festive play also...
Firstly I need to tell you that as I write this post I'm also snacking on macarons from Iceland (I'm talking economy frozen food store not country) They are £5.00 for 12 and are also rather good. I fear I may soon be out of a job.
We had afternoon tea with Janet then went Christmas decoration shopping in John Lewis, though I decided to opt for homemade decorations this year in the form of brown paper stars (Again, I had great plans for a tutorial post here, maybe next year!)
I'm going to dedicate this recipe to everyone who is as unprepared as I am this festive season. Those people who leave all the things until the last minute then spend more time panicking about getting it done than actually getting sh*t done. If you're in that place I salute you, we can get through this.
This is a really simple recipe, perfect for 11th hour homemade gifting, great to have on hand in case of any surprise visitors and splendid for snacking on whilst finishing that last minute wrapping. They go down rather nicely with a glass of Prosecco too.
You will need:
- 250g granulated sugar
- 250ml water
- 250ml pecans
- 1 Tbls Olive oil
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 further tsp granulated sugar
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp caraway seeds
Preheat your oven to 190°C/175°C fan/gas mark 5. Combine the water and sugar in a saucepan and bring the mixture to a rolling boil to create a stock syrup. Add the pecans to the boiling liquid. Allow the pan to come up to the boil again and continue to boil for 6 minutes then drain the nuts through a colander, discard the syrup. Place the drained nuts onto a baking tray lined with parchment, drizzle over the olive oil, stir to coat and bake the nuts for 6 minutes. While the nuts are baking prepare the spices. Place the cumin and caraway seeds in a small frying pan over a medium heat and toast for a minute or two until aromatic. Combine the nuts with the salt and sugar and blend together, you can grind them in a spice grinder or pestle and mortar for a more even distribution. Once the Nuts have toasted remove from the oven and toss through the spice mix. It's best to try and wait till the nuts are cool before tasting so they can crisp up, however this is quite a test on the old willpower, particularly when the nerves are a little fraught.
Feel free to mix up the spices, a touch of smoked paprika or chilli goes down a storm. If you don't have pecans to hand Walnuts work well too, whole almonds and hazelnuts can be used but increase both the boiling and baking timings by a couple of minutes.
At the end of the day all that really matters is spending time with family & friends, eating plenty of good food and sipping on the odd sherry. I hope you have a fantastic Christmas and all best wishes for a terrific 2017!