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Recipe: Sweet and salty toasted pecans make a fine gift — if you can part with them

Sweet and salty toasted pecans
Sweet and salty toasted pecans(Sally Pasley Vargas for The Boston Globe)

Makes 4 cups

These pecans — crunchy, sweet, and salty all at once — are going to be hard to part with, but they make a fine gift. Simmer the nuts in sugar syrup to prepare them for two turns in the oven. After they’ve baked once, toss them in mild vegetable oil and vanilla and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and cinnamon. Pop them back in the oven for a second round to seal the flavors. They’re good with drinks, tossed with greens in a salad, or spooned onto bowls of ice cream. Keep them under lock and key if you’re giving them away, because you can’t eat just one.

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1teaspoon kosher salt
½teaspoon freshly ground
black pepper
½teaspoon ground cinnamon
4cups pecan halves
cups water
3cups sugar
2tablespoons mild vegetable oil
2teaspoons vanilla extract

1. Set the oven at 325 degrees. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. In a small bowl, stir together the salt, pepper, and cinnamon.

3. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the pecans, water, and sugar. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes.

4. With a slotted spoon, remove the nuts from the pan and spread them in a single layer on the baking sheets. Use 2 forks to separate them so they don’t touch each other.

5. Bake for 20 minutes, or until they turn a deep, toasty brown.

6. Remove from the oven and cool for 5 minutes. On each baking sheet, push the nuts into a mound in the center of the sheet. Drizzle each mound with half the oil and half the vanilla extract, and toss to coat the nuts. Sprinkle each mound with half the cinnamon mixture and toss again to coat them.

7. Spread the nuts on the baking sheets in one layer again. Return to the oven for 10 minutes, or until browned and crisp.

8. Leave to cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to 10 days.

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Sally Pasley Vargas


Sally Pasley Vargas can be reached at sally.p.vargas@gmail.com.