A great treat all year round, these Cocoa, Cayenne and Espresso Roasted Walnuts are easy to make and lovely to gift to friends.
As soon as I saw Jen Schall at My Kitchen Addiction post a recipe for almonds with a crispy coating that included cocoa, I knew I would be using that recipe as inspiration for my own appetizer for this week. I used to be all pecans all the time but I’ve been awakened in the past couple of years to the wonderfulness of walnuts. The secret? Roasting or toasting them. It makes such a difference in the end result that I now love them more than any other nut. If I’m putting them into cookies, I toast them before I chop them and add them to the dough. Amazing difference. Salads with toasted walnuts? Amazing. So I couldn’t wait to put my spin on Jen’s idea with walnuts as an appetizer for this week.
I’ve paired them with a bottle of 2009 Georges DuBoeuf Brouilly; a red wine from France that is best enjoyed when young (the wine that is…too late for me!). This red wine with notes of plum and blackberry was terrific with the cocoa and subtle heat of this appetizer.
Somewhat prophetically I also noticed a Twitter conversation on Wednesday with Elle (@elleskitchen) from Elle’s New England Kitchen and Jennifer (@CAWalnuts) with California Walnuts. Jennifer was toasting walnuts at the Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo in San Diego and commented how wonderful the aroma was; she knows I often feel like a (wal)nut and within moments the three of us roasted up a plan. Elle and I are both doing a version of roasted walnuts today and the California Walnuts folks?
If you love walnuts like I love walnuts I hope you will try this recipe but be sure to visit the California Walnuts website too where they’ve got a whole section on their site devoted to recipes. Yum!
Cocoa, Cayenne and Espresso Roasted Walnuts
- 4 cups California walnuts
- 2 egg whites (I happened to have small eggs on hand...if you have extra large, one might be enough...you just need enough to coat all of the nuts a bit)
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
- 1 teaspoon of dried Chipotle pepper (or use dried Cayenne pepper)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Preheat oven to 275°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and set aside.
- Whisk together the egg white(s) and vanilla.
- Combine the brown sugar, cocoa powder, espresso powder, Chipotle pepper and salt in a processor and mix til thoroughly blended.
- In a larger mixing bowl mix the egg white with the walnuts and mix well to coat the nuts.
- Add the sugar and cocoa mixture into the walnuts and stir until the nuts are evenly coated.
- Spread the nuts on the baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes; stirring every 15 minutes.