Thursday, June 24, 2010

Plate of Love Part 1: Spicy Maple-Glazed Pecans

I made this as a snack for Jordan the other day.

I was jealous.

The cake is a Raspberry Yogurt Cake, inspired by Clotilde at Chocolate & Zucchini, has become one of my favorite summer afternoon tea-cakes. It is light, buttery, spotted with fresh, juicy raspberries, and topped with crunchy, caramelized coarse-grained demerera sugar. Because of the moisture and richness provided by the yogurt added to this cake, it requires a lot less butter than most cakes. And, if you use sweetened yogurt you can drop the sugar level down quite a bit, too.

The crackers are simple rosemary-garlic snack crackers, with a mild enough flavor to support toppings. They are topped with soft goat cheese and last summer's savory-jam-experiment, my Golden Cherry Tomato and Ginger jam.

The strawberries... oh! the strawberries! They were the first organic strawberries to arrive in the market this season, and they are sliced in half and stuffed with the same soft goat cheese. But the crowning piece to this amuse-bouche are the Spicy Maple-Glazed Pecans.

I must have had a particularly inspired afternoon, because these turned out amazingly (and surprisingly!) well in the first attempt. They are sweet, spicy, crunchy, buttery, with layers and layers of flavors that may make you ask... "Is that balsamic vinegar I taste?" I first made the pecans to provide some crunch to a spinach salad that included strawberries, that lovely goat cheese, and a herby vinaigrette. However, as soon as they came out of the oven, Jordan and I started snacking on them, and frankly... we couldn't stop! I trust you won't be able to either. Wasn't it that Pringles ad that challenged, I dare you to eat just one?

This is the recipe you're getting today. I will post my recipes for the tomato-ginger jam and the cake soon.

Spicy Maple-Glazed Pecans

Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Brush the parchment paper with melted butter. (Trust me on this one.) Preheat your oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit... basically you will be broiling these.

In a bowl, mix together until smooth:
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

Fold in, tossing gently so as not to break the halves into smaller pieces:
2 - 2 1/2 cups pecan halves

Broil for four minutes. Stir or turn over the pecan pieces carefully; they will be very hot and bubbly! Broil for one more minute on the other side.

Let the pan cool completely before serving. They will get crunchier as they cool.

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