Making sugared nuts is like watching a magical transformation in front of your very eyes. To be honest it is pretty damn cool! These nuts are always super impressive and can be either a perfect sweet snack or a crunchy addition to any dessert.
The key to these delicious sugar crusted nuts is to bring the sugar syrup to a high enough concentration. A high concentration means a lot of sugar molecules are squeezed very close together.
In candy making, you can increase the concentration of sugar molecules by boiling the sugar syrup. The longer you boil, the more water evaporates and the higher the sugar concentration becomes. We cook the syrup to “Firmball” / “Hardball” stage 120/121ºC, which is approximately 92% sugar concentration.
To encourage the sugar crystal formation the temperature must be low enough so the molecules are moving slowly. Adding the nuts brings down the temperature of the syrup.
With very closely packed, slow-moving molecules, you can usually trigger the formation of sugar crystals by just stirring the mixture, causing the molecules to bang into each other. So once the nuts are added you need to start to stirring like your life depends on it, without stopping for the finest, crystalline sugary texture to your nuts.
Now this may sound a little complicated but if you follow my instructions and the video you’ll see that these sugared nuts are unbelievably easy to make at home.
— Al Brady
200g mixed nuts
100g caster sugar
Pre-heat the oven to 200ºC. Spread the nuts out onto a baking sheet and place into the oven for 10-15 minutes until deeply roasted and golden brown.
Place the sugar in a saucepan and add the 75g water. Stir over a low heat until the sugar has melted. Boil the sugar syrup to 120ºC or “Hardball” stage – to test, drop a small amount of the syrup into cold water. If it can be brought together to become a hard, clear ball of sugar, the correct temperature has been reached.
Add the nuts to the sugar syrup and remove from the heat. Stir the nuts vigorously until the sugar turns white and starts to crystallise.
Pour immediately onto baking sheet and separate any of the crystallised nuts that have stuck together. Cool before using.
WATCH THE VIDEO
Why Not Go Nuts!
This is a really straight forward recipe for flawless crystallised nuts. But if you wanted to take it a bit further you can easily play around with this recipes to spice things up a little bit!
Try adding a sprinkle of Maldon Sea Salt to the finished nuts while they are still warm, to give you a fantastic salty-sweet balance. Or try adding a pinch of your favourite spice (cinnamon, smoked paprika, chilli) to the sugar syrup and cook as normal to give your crystallised nuts another dimension!