hi friends!! me again. happy fall! it may not *officially* be the season (that’s sept 22nd), but it already feels like autumn here in paris. i’ve been wearing coats more than expected in my first week here, and i don’t mind it one bit!
in one of my first pastry classes this week, chef made praliné. not to be confused with the new orleans style praline, praliné is a powder or paste used in many french desserts as a base, filling, or decoration. while chef demonstrated how to make praliné, i couldn’t help but notice the similarities between that process and a favorite snack of mine, candied nuts!
if you are not already on the candied nut bandwagon, i suggest you hop on. as a kid, i remember giddily awaiting my aunt laura’s packages of candied nuts that would arrive around christmas time. and if you don’t have an aunt laura that sends you candied nuts than you might know them from fairs, sporting events, malls, etc. if you’re in new york city, than you undoubtedly know the nuts4nuts stands that are oh. so. addicting.
with candied nuts on my mind, i set out to make my own version of the fairground favorite this weekend. to start, i used peanuts as my base. they were the cheapest nuts at the supermarket so that was an easy decision. above you can see the core ingredients for candied nuts: water, sugar, and nuts! it’s that easy. kind of.
the following images are my best attempt at photographing the progression and caramelization of the nuts. i started with just the sugar and water in a saucepan, brought that to a boil, and then added the shelled peanuts. (aside: i caught up with my mom on the phone while shelling the peanuts. multi-tasking in a foreign country for the win!)
the mixture will start to foam a bit and that’s when the caramelization has officially begun!
don’t forget to keep stirring! as the sugar begins to thicken, it’s even more important to keep scraping the sides of your saucepan. the sugar will first turn powdery and then start to really caramelize.
it all happened so fast! as soon as the true burgundy caramelization began, i took the pan off the heat and mixed as fast as i could. i also added in my seasonings at this time: a fat slice of butter, a couple pinches of sea salt, and a pinch of paprika.
once my toppings were mixed in, i took the candied nuts off the heat and dumped them onto a baking sheet with tin foil. after they cooled a bit, i was able to break the nuts off into smaller pieces for snacking!
bon appetit! as i’m writing this, my brain feels quite sugary so i think the fairground peanuts have done their job. off to get some real food for a late dinner!
but before i go, this week’s other stuff…!
felt v french when i used this last night before going out (thanks old roomies for the gift!)
oh my poor football team. i’ll be asleep when this game is over. god speed!
my host mom made gratin daphinois this week and i couldn’t get enough of it
au revoir from paris! xx
serves 20 small bags
two parts nuts, two parts sugar, and just shy of one part water
500g shelled peanuts
500g granulated sugar
a fat slice of butter (2-4 tablespoons)
2 teaspoons sea salt
2 teaspoons paprika
- bring sugar and water to a boil. once boiling, add peanuts.
- stir peanuts and sugar together for 30 minutes, make sure to scrape sides as the mixture begins to thicken. see pictures above for better clues!
- prepare baking sheet lined with tin foil or parchment paper.
- once carmelization has deepened, take saucepan off heat and add seasonings. once seasonings are mixed, dump mixture on the lined baking sheet. smooth out (aka don’t copy my big giant rock!)
- once cool, break apart pieces to bite-size. eat alone or add as toppings to cakes, ice cream, cookies, and more!
all photography by catherine o’donnell/foodstuffs