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Maple Spiced Nuts

Maple spiced nuts balance a crunchy, sweet maple syrup glaze with a touch of heat from smoky chipotle and black pepper. They’re easy to make for cocktail parties and gifts.

You don’t need to be a stand-up comedian to have a “tight ten” you can fall back on.

OK, yes, I’ve been obsessively burning through the second season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, marveling at the sassiness—and style—of the eponymous Midge as she works her way through the comedy ranks with her manager Susie.

Maple spiced nuts balance a crunchy, sweet maple syrup glaze with a touch of heat from smoky chipotle and black pepper.
Photo: Casey Barber

I mean, talk about a couple of spiced nuts! (Ba-dump.)

For those who aren’t completely caught up, suffice to say that Midge and Susie are focused on perfecting her “tight ten,” the first 10 minutes of her stand-up act that are so rapid-fire wonderful that they’re guaranteed to hook the audience.

Like comedy, or any creative skill, really—look at my old food photography for some embarrassing examples!—a tight ten needs some time to build.

Sometimes it happens quickly, meteorically, with a big epiphany.

Maple spiced nuts balance a crunchy, sweet maple syrup glaze with a touch of heat from smoky chipotle and black pepper.
Photo: Casey Barber

But most of the time it’s a slow burn, with small tweaks sneaking in like a drip through a crack in the rock until you’ve got a Grand Canyon of tight, reliable jokes.

Or a signature wardrobe style. Or a morning work routine. Or a set of go-to recipes.

Recipe-wise, I’ve got quite a few tight tens in my back pocket. Some have been polished like diamonds over the decades, to the point where I can whip up a batch of homemade ravioli as easily as if I were brushing my teeth.

Others are much less complex, like this maple spiced nuts recipe.

It’s been bouncing around in the Good. Food. Stories. archives for years, but has been such a taken-for-granted, underappreciated recipe that it finally deserves a spotlight of its own.

Spiced nuts are great for parties and only take 20 minutes to make.
Photo: Casey Barber

Whereas many spiced nut recipes rely on granulated or brown sugar crystals to create a crackly, sweet glaze, I was obsessed with using sticky maple syrup instead.

And without belaboring the process, I think I’ve finally found my tight ten with these maple spiced nuts. It’s not a recipe to overthink or to get too creative with–just let the ingredients shine through.

Almonds are my favorite nut to use with this combination of sweetness, smokiness, and heat, but you’re not beholden to them.

maple spiced almonds

If you’re particular to pecans, go for it. If you’re wild about walnuts, have at it.

And if you’re interested in the other spiced nuts in the photo above, you can find that Thai spiced cashews in the GFS archives for your party pleasures.

I feel like Midge and her mother, as consummate hostesses, would appreciate them both!

Maple spiced nuts balance a crunchy, sweet maple syrup glaze with a touch of heat from smoky chipotle and black pepper.

Maple Spiced Nuts

Yield: about 3 cups
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

Maple spiced nuts balance a crunchy, sweet maple syrup glaze with a touch of heat from smoky chipotle and black pepper.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon chipotle powder or smoked paprika
  • 1 pound roasted unsalted almonds, pecans, or walnuts
  • smoked salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Stir the maple syrup, black pepper, and chipotle powder or paprika together in a large bowl.
  3. Add the nuts and stir to coat.
  4. Spread the nuts in an even layer on the prepared baking sheet.
  5. Sprinkle with smoked salt.
  6. Bake for 10 minutes, then stir the nuts. The liquid will be stickier and thicker around them, turning into a glaze.
  7. Bake for another 3 minutes, stir, then bake for another 2-3 minutes. At this point, the glaze should be very bubbly and almost opaque in places—even starting to burn at the edges of the paper. The nuts themselves should still be a little sticky, but don't worry about that.
  8. If this stage hasn't yet been achieved, continue baking and stirring every minute until it does.
  9. Remove and place the entire baking sheets on wire racks to cool the nuts. As they slide toward room temperature, the glaze will harden.
  10. Store in sealed jars at room temperature for up to 2 weeks if not serving immediately.

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