Everyone else on the internet has amply covered the mechanics and aesthetics of most of the gifty foods I've been making this season. Fleur de sel caramels? Check. Spoon cookies? Most assuredly. Chocolate-covered butter toffee with almonds? Oui oui. But the recipe for my holiday spiced nuts belongs to no one but me. I've written about it before, but it's buried so deep in history that you cannot turn it up even with a Google search -- and so, I think, I can safely write about it again.
I would choose these over any other salty-sweet spiced pecan, walnut, or almond, and I have eaten many that are very good. I'm sure your favorite recipe is perfectly tasty. It's just that these are better. The ingredient list is not intuitive, but the resulting combination of flavors is highly addictive. The coating clings beautifully, thanks to the egg whites, and its texture after cooking is light and crisp. One recipe's worth generally covers about 6 cups of whatever sort of nuts you like best, and it is easy to make batch after batch if you want more.
Obviously these are bold, rather than dainty, but unless you are cooking for a bunch of supertasters, everyone should be able to enjoy them just fine.
BEST SPICED NUTS
Lots of raw, unsalted walnuts, pecans, and/or almonds
2 egg whites
1 T. olive oil
3/4 c. white sugar
2 t. salt
2 t. garam masala
1 T. paprika
1 t. hot sauce (I recommend Sriracha, aka Magic Rooster sauce)
1 t. soy sauce
baking parchment (CRUCIAL -- your pans and sanity will thank you)
1. Preheat oven to 325° F.
2. Beat egg whites in a very large bowl until foamy, but not holding a peak. Add the other ingredients, except for the nuts. The result will be a reddish brown, slimy goo. Mm!
3. Add as many nuts as will comfortably fit in the bowl and mix very thoroughly with your hands, a spatula, or a wooden spoon.
4. Line two cookie sheets with parchment. Spread the nut mixture on these sheets in a single layer, leaving behind any extra coating that has puddled at the bottom of the bowl. Add more nuts to the bowl and coat them until all the goop is used up.
5. Cook for 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from oven and slide parchment and nuts onto the counter to cool. When they are COMPLETELY cool, and not before, break the clusters apart and store in an airtight container. They should keep well for a couple of weeks, but warm or damp weather will tend to make them soft before their time.