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Liquorice Nuts

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Introduction

I’m not much given to starters, finding it unrelaxing to have to jump up and clear the table not long after everyone’s sat down to dinner, but I’m a great believer in handing round something to pick at over drinks. And this doesn’t have to be anything fiddly or fancy: frankly, it’s hard to beat a bowl of buttery, spiced nuts.

We don’t commonly think of liquorice as a spice, and I agree it’s a risky business flavouring food with such a divisive ingredient without knowing the predilections and prejudices of those who are going to eat it, but here the liquorice offers gentle, aromatic warmth rather than an aggressive punch. You can hardly detect it at first, though the more you eat, the more you can feel it build benignly: even the liquorice-avoidant seem to snaffle these up serenely.

I should say that the liquorice powder I found in Amsterdam, which inspired these nuts in the first place, is paler and subtler than the robust dark Calabrian liquorice powder I’ve cooked with previous, but luckily I found one that matches my Dutch find on a British website called spicemountain.co.uk.

For US cup measures, use the toggle at the top of the ingredients list.

I’m not much given to starters, finding it unrelaxing to have to jump up and clear the table not long after everyone’s sat down to dinner, but I’m a great believer in handing round something to pick at over drinks. And this doesn’t have to be anything fiddly or fancy: frankly, it’s hard to beat a bowl of buttery, spiced nuts.

We don’t commonly think of liquorice as a spice, and I agree it’s a risky business flavouring food with such a divisive ingredient without knowing the predilections and prejudices of those who are going to eat it, but here the liquorice offers gentle, aromatic warmth rather than an aggressive punch. You can hardly detect it at first, though the more you eat, the more you can feel it build benignly: even the liquorice-avoidant seem to snaffle these up serenely.

I should say that the liquorice powder I found in Amsterdam, which inspired these nuts in the first place, is paler and subtler than the robust dark Calabrian liquorice powder I’ve cooked with previous, but luckily I found one that matches my Dutch find on a British website called spicemountain.co.uk.

For US cup measures, use the toggle at the top of the ingredients list.

Ingredients

Serves: 6

Metric Cups
  • 400 grams natural mixed nuts (ie not salted)
  • 30 grams unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon liquorice powder
  • 2 teaspoons light muscovado sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Maldon salt (plus more for sprinkling)
  • 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary (finely chopped)
  • 3¼ cups raw mixed nuts (ie not salted)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon liquorice powder
  • 2 teaspoons light muscovado sugar
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt flakes (plus more for sprinkling)
  • 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary (finely chopped)

Method

  1. Heat your oven to 200ºC/180ºC Fan/350ºF, and tip the nuts into a shallow baking tray; I actually use a Swiss roll tin here, as it’s the perfect size. When the oven’s at temperature, pop the nuts in to toast for 8 minutes.
  2. In a large, non-stick frying pan — I use one of 27cm/10½in diameter — melt the butter and, once it’s melted, stir in the liquorice powder and sugar, and mix well together. Add the nuts and stir thoroughly so that the all the nuts get a light coating, then sprinkle in the teaspoon of Maldon salt and 1 teaspoon of the chopped rosemary, and mix again.
  3. Divide between four saucers and sprinkle each one with the remaining rosemary and a little extra Maldon salt to taste.
  1. Heat your oven to 200ºC/180ºC Fan/350ºF, and tip the nuts into a shallow baking tray; I actually use a Swiss roll tin here, as it’s the perfect size. When the oven’s at temperature, pop the nuts in to toast for 8 minutes.
  2. In a large, non-stick frying pan — I use one of 27cm/10½in diameter — melt the butter and, once it’s melted, stir in the liquorice powder and sugar, and mix well together. Add the nuts and stir thoroughly so that the all the nuts get a light coating, then sprinkle in the teaspoon of sea salt flakes and 1 teaspoon of the chopped rosemary, and mix again.
  3. Divide between four saucers and sprinkle each one with the remaining rosemary and a little extra sea salt flakes to taste.

Additional Information

MAKE AHEAD / STORE:
These are best freshly made. Leftover nuts can be kept for 1-2 days in an airtight container in a cool place. Warm them briefly in a frying pan before serving.

MAKE AHEAD / STORE:
These are best freshly made. Leftover nuts can be kept for 1-2 days in an airtight container in a cool place. Warm them briefly in a frying pan before serving.

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