Even though this is such an easy, adjustable recipe and even though I have been asked 1000 times for it, I have never written it down – much less given it to anyone. I’ve thought long and hard about giving this recipe away and have actually lost quite a bit of sleep over it. So, because this lack of beauty sleep is starting to show on my face (and I can’t have that!), I’ve decided to write it down. I’ve finally convinced myself that it’s only because we are close friends now that I will give you my secret so you too can look good for the holidays – as I have for the last 9 years that I’ve made them.
This recipe goes way back when I owned an ad agency for 12 years called ALLinONE Marketing. I was looking for something that I could afford to give clients as a Christmas gift that anyone would like to receive. I was always stuck during the holidays because with some clients, I would be working with the owner of the company while at other companies, I would be working with their marketing director. A discount on my ad services seemed appropriate – but only to those who owned the company. As time went on and those companies grew along with my company, I dealt more and more with the marketing department head. Giving discounts for the holidays is kind of like being 10 years old and getting clothes for Christmas from your grandma. It just ain’t right!
When I started to give these pecans to people, they would eventually leave the company they were with but they would always call me around November every year to remind me where they were so I wouldn’t “forget” their new address. It got to be hysterical! I learned quickly that marketing people – especially advertising executives – moved around a lot! I still know where most are today.
You’ve heard me talk about my Aunt Dorothy in other posts so you may feel as though you know her too. Let me just say that I am not welcomed at the house for Christmas if I don’t bring her a mason jar of her own nuts to take back to Pike County after Christmas. I have to bring her a big bowl to munch on while we open presents (for 6 hours – but that’s another post!), and a huge mason jar of nuts that she immediately takes to her room at my mom’s and hides. People have been known to sneak in and take some of hers and, let’s just say, it wasn’t pretty.
So I give you my recipe with a big, fat warning label! WARNING: if you think you’ve made enough, you haven’t – make more or a brawl will ensue. If you think this is a simple “extra” gift for someone who shows up unexpected at your house, don’t do it – they will show up every year unexpected. If you think this is such a simple recipe that you will lovingly make a little for EVERYONE on your Christmas list, don’t even think about it – the list will only get larger every year and with pecans at $6.50 per pound this year, so will your grocery bill!
In all honesty, you will love this recipe because it’s easy, it’s quick, and everyone including your mailman will love them! They make great gifts if you put them in little mason jars or cello bags with ribbon. You can also chop them up finely and give it as ice cream sprinkles or as a stir-in for coffee. You can sprinkle them with savory spices to mix sweet and salty. Get creative! I keep some on hand and stir into cookie batter, sprinkle on pies or bread pudding, and to just eat by the spoonful right out of the bag. The point is, as a gift, as a condiment, as a peace-offering, as a way to impress your boss or clients, or simply as a munchie when opening presents – these are DELISH! But remember. DON’T give them to someone you don’t like. They WILL be back. You’ve been forewarned.
- Use instant, freeze-dried coffee – such as Taster’s Choice coffee in a jar. NOT instant powdered coffee like cappuccino.
- Add a sprinkle of cayenne pepper to the powdered sugar at the end for a sweet & savory blend
- Mix in peanuts and small pretzels to make your recipe go further (double your recipe but not your pecans and mix in a cup of peanuts and a cup of small pretzels).
- Dust with powdered sugar at the end after the nuts have cooled if you’d like them a little sweeter
- Use a Silpat or silicone mat to pour your hot pecans on to cool. Clean up is a lot faster! They will stick to an unlined pan when cooling.
- Add your vanilla at the end off the heat so it doesn’t evaporate
- Wait til they completely cool before packaging so they don’t lose their crispness
3 cups pecan halves
1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 tablespoons water
4 teaspoons instant, freeze-dried coffee (I use Taster’s Choice in a jar)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cap vanilla extract
Powdered sugar for dusting, optional
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. In a large pot combine granulated sugar, water, instant freeze-dried coffee, and cinnamon (add some other spice if you want). Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly, then add pecans. Boil 3 minutes while stirring the pecans. Take off heat and carefully stir in vanilla (will bubble up and steam so be careful). Pour on sheet pan lined with a rubber silicone mat in single layer. Put in oven to bake until coating bubbles on pecans. They may turn a lighter brown color. That’s really good but not necessary. Take out of oven and let cool completely. Taste one to check for sweetness. If you would like them sweeter, sprinkle with powdered sugar and toss to coat. Enjoy!