Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Nuts for Dessert

When you are planning a long extended wilderness rafting trip, the menu becomes a difficult chore of organizing perishable food items. You cook the items that will spoil first. So veggies and herbs go first. That's the easy part. Dessert, on the other hand, is a difficult meal plan.

I had ice cream on the East Fork of the Carson River on day two, but it was seriously cold outside anyway, so we were able to dry ice a small cooler and sit in the hot springs eating gelato and drink champagne. That was easy. But when you are on a Klamath River trip on day 5, in 100 degree heat in August, ice cream is definitely not a choice.

I came up with this very tasty treat on a long extended river rafting trip a few years ago. Pack almonds and cashews in a dry box and don't open it until you are ready to make this. Yummy nuts!

CANDIED SPICY NUTS
2 lbs nuts (almonds, cashews, pecans, walnuts, etc)
butter (enough to coat the nuts)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp cinnamon
2 pinches of chili flakes (to your liking)
1 small sprig of rosemary (leave whole; easier to take out when done)
salt (optional if salted butter is used)

Heat a dutch oven to medium heat. Throw nuts into the dry dutch oven and slowly toast by stirring. You will smell the nuts toasting. This will take a minute to 3 minutes depending on the size of your nuts. (Don't let the nuts get black on the edges or it will taste burnt) Add butter to cover the nuts. Continue to stir. Add sugar, cinnamon, chili flakes, rosemary and salt. Stir. When the sugar melts, remove rosemary spring and take dutch oven off of heat and continue to stir until it starts to clump. Let cool and break up any large pieces. Serve.

Variations: add toasted oats after the sugar melts. Add raisins or any other dry fruit (cherries, cranberries, prunes). These variations can be saved in ziplock baggies and served throughout the day while on the river. Imagine munching on this vegan treat while riding on the rafts and enjoying the scenery. Add some chocolate chips into the baggies... aahhh, life on the river is grand!

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