Let’s get right to the point: this is my killer app recipe, the one I go to more than anything else. I could tell a million stories about this, but I’ll just skip all that stuff for now and scoot right to the goods.
I love these peanuts! Not only are they absolutely scrumptious and the easiest candy you can make, but if you keep a sack of raw almonds or peanuts on hand, you can make them in about 10 minutes. Tied into a little sack, they’re a great hostess gift in lieu of a bottle of wine (and cheaper!), and I serve them often as a cocktail snack, or after dinner, in a bowl for everyone to dig into.
I also like to mix these candied peanuts in just-churned ice cream, which I’m going to do with this particular batch, along with a swirl of homemade dulce de leche. A handful chopped and sprinkled over a spinach salad or batch of cole slaw would be pretty terrific, for those looking for savory apps. And at the risk of infuriating any purists, topping a bowl of Asian noodles.
I brought back a few bags of smoked salt from Texas, which I’m sure set off some alarms with the TSA when they smelled smoke wafting from my luggage. But that smoky aroma prompted me to make these almost as soon as I landed home in Paris. You can use any kind of interesting salt, such as cinnamon salt or coarse sea salt, and you can add some spices at the end (if you add them earlier, they’ll burn.) But resist the temptation to get too fussy; these simple candied peanuts are great just the way they are.
And once you tilt out your first batch of candied peanuts, you’ll beam with pride like the accomplished candymaker that you’ve just become.
Adapted from The Perfect Scoop
You can easily cut the recipe in half, although I don’t think you’ll have any trouble finishing off a whole batch. I’ve made this many times using raw almonds and peanuts, but if you want to experiment with other nuts, I’d be interested in hearing how they turn out. I think round nuts work best so the sugar can tumble around and coat them, rather than get stuck in any pecan-like nooks and crannies.
2 cups (275g) raw peanuts, or almonds
1 cup (200g) sugar
1/3 cup (75ml) water
optional: ground cinnamon or chili powder
In a wide, heavy-duty skillet, mix the peanuts with the sugar and water. Cook the ingredients over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until the liquid seizes up. It will take a few minutes.
At this point, the peanuts will get crusty and the sugar will crystallize.
The peanuts will become dry and sandy, which is perfectly normal. Don’t worry; you didn’t mess up. Lower the heat and keep going, scraping up any syrup collecting in the bottom of the pan and stir the peanuts in it, coating them as much as possible.
As you go, tilt the pan, removing it from the heat from time-to-time to regulate the heat and the syrup, so you can coat the nuts with the liquid as it darkens without burning the peanuts or the syrup. This is the only tricky part—I like to get the peanuts as deeply-bronzed as possible. if the mixture starts to smoke, remove it from the heat and stir.
Right before they’re done, sprinkle the peanuts with a sizable pinch of flaky salt (and pinch of cinnamon or chili powder, if you want), stir them a couple of times, then tilt the peanuts out onto a baking sheet or a marble countertop.
Let the peanuts cool completely, then break up any clumps. Store in an airtight container, where they’ll keep up to a week.