If you are still looking for one little thing to tuck into your holiday gift baskets, or if you need to bring a snack to a holiday gathering (and you have more tact than to "re-gift" those crumbly cookies that the neighbor kids brought over), this post is for you.
I made this snack mix to tuck into holiday gift baskets, and I brought a bag of it to the office with me. It was so well received that I think maybe next year I'll give individual bags to everyone in the office. (This year I handed out hot chocolate mix and gingerbread biscotti; a nice combination, but given the multiple boxes of See's Candy that we've picked through during the last month, by the end of December a savory treat is in order.
Is it just me, or when someone gives you "Hot Cocoa Mix," do you have qualms about its source? The stuff I handed out, I assure you, was good stuff, not just the stuff from the blue can repackaged as my own. No, this was made with good-quality semi-sweet and bitter-sweet chocolate, organic sugar, even a vanilla bean... Oh, I might as well give you the recipe. It's good stuff. The kind you can mix with steamed milk and shot of espresso to make a real mocha.
And this Pretzel & Nut Mix: it comes together quickly, makes use of local almonds and pecans and it has a pleasantly sweet, spicy flavor that people apparently like. You may even have all the ingredients on hand. I prepared a triple batch, which takes no more time than a single batch, and yields about eight 1.5 cup gifts. Having all the seasoning ingredients on hand, I only had to purchase the nuts and pretzels, which cost about $20. Not a bad price for eight gifts.
Pretzel & Nut Mix
adapted from David Lebovitz
The 3/4 teaspoon cayenne may seem like a lot, but given the volume of nuts and pretzels that the seasoning mixture coats, it seems to have the right spice level. Not too spicy. Don't whisk the salt into the seasoning; for a good salty crunch, David notes, sprinkle it in with pretzels. A single recipe makes about 4 cups of snack mix, but can easily be multiplied for a larger batch.
2 cups raw nuts, such as whole almonds, pecan halves and cashews
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon flaky sea salt or kosher salt
2 cups mini pretzel twists
1. Spread nuts on rimmed baking sheet and toast in 350 oven for 10 minutes, stirring once or twice. Keep a close eye on the nuts, especially those toward the edges of the pan to prevent burning.
2. Meanwhile, in large mixing bowl, whisk together butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, cayenne and maple syrup.
3. Add warm nuts and stir with a rubber scraper to combine. Add salt and pretzels. Stir to coat pretzels and nuts evenly. Spread mixture back onto baking sheet and return to 350 oven. Cook 12-18 minutes longer, stirring once or twice for even toasting. Cool snack mix on baking sheets.
Snack Mix may be stored in an airtight container up to one week.