Why It Works
- Soaking the cherries in bourbon—in addition to glazing the pecans with the spirit—ensures that the boozy flavor comes through.
- Adding orange zest to the nuts after they have been glazed and cooled keeps the flavor of the zest vibrant and fresh.
Although the Old Fashioned has come to be one of today's most revered cocktails, I find that it can also be one of the most inconsistently made drinks. While its ingredients are few (sugar, bitters, water, whiskey), the Old Fashioned can range from simple and superb, to a sweet and syrupy mess—all depending on the skill and knowledge of the bartender at whichever watering hole you happen to wander into.
Conversely, that bowl of mixed nuts that adorns many a bar can be one of the most consistent things on offer. Problem is, they are usually consistently stale, and consistently bland. A bowl of stale nuts is about as tempting as, well, a bowl of stale nuts. Which is why I usually steer clear of such roughage no matter how peckish I get when sitting at a bar.
It's a good thing, then, that I do most of my drinking and snacking at home. As such, I decided to use one of my favorite cocktails (the Old Fashioned, natch), as inspiration to improve upon that usually insipid bowl of mixed bar nuts.
For this particular recipe I used pecans, but really, any mix of raw nuts will do. After a few minutes toasting in a dry skillet, the pecans become fragrant and nutty. A toss in melted butter and a mix of brown sugar, salt, black pepper, and a touch of cayenne would seem to be all these pecans need. But to echo their boozy inspiration, the nuts are then doused with bourbon and dotted with old-fashioned accouterments of orange zest and cherries (dried cherries made plump by a soak in more bourbon).
The result is a spicy-sweet snack of glazed pecans worthy of a perfectly made Old Fashioned cocktail, or any cool beverage you happen to be nursing.
1/4 cup bourbon whiskey
1/4 cup dried cherries
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
4 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 cups raw pecan halves
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon zest from 1 small orange
Combine bourbon and dried cherries in a small bowl and set aside to soak for 30 minutes. In another small bowl, combine brown sugar, salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper and stir until well-combined. Set aside.
Place pecans in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until they just start to brown and smell toasted, 3 to 4 minutes. Add butter to pan and stir until the butter is completely melted and the pecans are coated.
Add the sugar and spice mixture to pan and stir to combine. Turn off heat and immediately pour in cherries and bourbon. Stir for 1-2 minutes more, off heat, until everything is well incorporated.
Return pan to medium heat and continue to stir everything in pan until the liquid thickens and a glaze forms on the pecans, 1 to 2 minutes longer. Transfer pecans to a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet.
Using a spatula or wooden spoon, separate the pecans and spread them into an even layer on the parchment paper. Allow pecans to cool completely. Once pecans have cooled, zest orange over pecans. Transfer pecans to a large bowl and serve.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 12g||16%|
|Saturated Fat 3g||13%|
|Total Carbohydrate 9g||3%|
|Dietary Fiber 2g||6%|
|Total Sugars 7g|
|Vitamin C 2mg||11%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|