DIY Holiday Gift - Maple Glazed Pecans
My last post was on The Alternative Gift-Giving Guide - ideas if you will for a gift that isn't an actual gift, but rather an experience. Minimalism at the Holidays. As I wrote, I'm not opposed to giving actual gifts, because I do. But I'm more intentional with the gifts when I give them and they're not as frequent. I'm not cheap, I just think people buy items when they need them and sometimes buying more things isn't the most thoughtful. Again, that may just be me, but take a read if you're interested here.
However, I do gift in the form of baked goods. That I have been known to do. Baking for me is a hobby and it is also therapeutic. I get it's not for everyone, but I have in the last few years really come to love it. There's science behind the measurements and getting something to turn out just perfectly gives you a sense of accomplishment when it's all said and done. Again, I know not everyone will agree, so this post may not be for you. But keep in mind I'm talking about DIY gifts today. So use your imagination and if it's not food that you're making, maybe it will be something else you can DIY. You know what you're good at!
Last year I made a DIY coconut oil sugar scrub (for your feet). And while this wasn't edible, it was a fun gift to make. I used this scrub to help exfoliate my feet when I was training for a marathon and let me tell you, it's so simple and easy to make - all you need is a container to store it in. It smells good, it works great and it's not that expensive (when compared with what's sold in the stores!) Make you some today - or gift this today! There are even DIY chalkboard labels you can print out. I mean, how cute is that?? Almost want to make this again this year, but I did already gift it. And there are guys on our team at work, so maybe not the best gift this year.
This year I decided to bring my love of baking together with what I eat most. Nuts. As a vegetarian, sometimes pescatarian (again, one day hoping we can get rid of titles telling you what I eat) but nuts are a main source of plant-based protein for me that I eat daily. I eat them in their whole form, as a nut "butter" and also in the form of "cheese". Nuts are versatile, healthy, and nutrient dense. I can't say enough good things about nuts. I tend to rotate the nut I am eating each day so that I don't get bored. This helps with variety within the nuts that I'm eating which leads to variety within the nutrients - vitamins and minerals - I'm getting as well. No overthinking necessary.
Since I tend to eat the nuts plain - in their whole form - I decided to take them up a notch for the holidays and make them glazed. Ooh la la. As a dietitian I try to use as little added sugar as possible, but when making these glazed pecans I can tell you I added as little as possible (compared to other recipes I researched) and let me tell you - they are DELISH, in my humble opinion. I hope you love them as much as I do.
And the thing about this recipe, is that it is so basic. You can switch out the nut - walnuts, cashews, or mix them all together!. You can even add whatever spices you'd like - a chai spiced pecan would be right up my alley - I think the sky is the limit. But for now, let's start with the basics.
Since I am gifting this I made more than I normally do - so that's how I'll write the recipe at the end - but while nuts can be expensive, find the place in your city, hello Trader Joe's, where they're the cheapest and stock up when you make this recipe. If you stock up at other times, store the nuts in the freezer as they can go rancid if not used in a short amount of time - and since they're expensive, no one wants to have to throw away expensive food.
This recipe is literally so simple, dump everything in a bowl, mix together, roast on a sheet pan. Check halfway through, rotate the pan for even cooking and to avoid any possible burning (aka too much caramelization of that maple syrup). And then let them cool so you can break them apart. I mean it doesn't get any simpler than that. Now I will say this - if you are adding spices, 9 times out of 10 recipes use a little beaten egg white to help the spices stick. I'm not the biggest fan of adding the egg white only because they come out looking not as pretty. My trick is simply to sprinkle the spices on after you've spread the nuts on the sheet pan. They'll only be on the top of the nuts, but they do stick (since my recipe has olive oil and maple syrup). Kind of a personal choice, but the way I do it they look prettier. Trust me.
Maple Glazed Pecans
2 cups pecan pieces
4 tablespoons maple syrup
2 garlic cloves, minced
8 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt (I normally use none, but used a little as I’m gifting this. Use more or less - season to your liking)
Start by preheating the oven to 350˚F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper (makes for easier clean-up). Combine all of the ingredients for the pecans in a small bowl and mix so that they are well-coated. Spread them onto the baking sheet and bake for about five minutes. Rotate the pan in the oven and continue baking for about 5 more minutes, until they appear toasted.
Best served with an amazing salad such as this! OR just as delicious served at a holiday party as an horderve. You decide. Happy Holidays!