I’ve always loved baking, in an old-fashioned way. When I was a child, I started out as my mother’s helper in the kitchen and then slowly started to master the recipes in her cookbooks. At University, I became known for bringing brownies, cookies and cakes to parties and people would be disappointed if I didn’t. I’ve been doing it ever since.
It’s only been in the last ten years or so that I’ve encountered people who disdain dessert. In one particular circle, I’d bring a basket of cookies to a party and go home with them all untouched. I’d bring the cookies to work the next day and they wouldn’t last a half hour. I was baffled, until I asked the friend who’d introduced me to that crowd. She told me that no one wanted to indulge in unhealthy treats and that a party was no excuse for over-eating.
So, I began bringing cheese plates instead. Blocks of brie, camembert, blue cheese and aged cheddar disappeared, along with the savoury dips and spreads that lined the table. It’s enough to break a baker’s heart. Clearly, the injunction against indulgence really only applied to desserts and baked goods.
I’ve got another one of these gatherings coming up, but I have a solution that’s going to satisfy my baker’s urge and shouldn’t leave me with untouched offerings at the end of the night. Dorie Greenspan’s Sweet and Spicy Cocktail Nuts.
These are a lot like a brittle, with a spicy bite of cayenne and chilli, instead of the usual caramel. I added a touch of smoked paprika to mine and am pleased with the result. The only thing I’d change is the sugar I used. Next time, I’ll pick up some granulated sugar – the slightly coarse cane sugar I had on hand produced a bubbly, brittle texture that isn’t as visually pleasing as I’d like.
I’m going to present them with a variety of salted nuts. I predict they’ll be popular.
We’re doing things a little differently again for the month of December. We’re still posting weekly, but people are free to post this month’s recipes in any order. You can find many other blogged descriptions of this month’s FFWD recipes here: LYL: December 3