Here in North America, we should pay more attention to pecans. After all, they’re our most prolific native nut! (Other native nuts include the nearly vanished chestnut and the fairly uncommon beechnut and hickory nut.) And since pecans are rich in monounsatured fat, they can handle some light frying and under-400F-degree baking. That means you can use crushed pecans to coat your chicken and fish and whisk pecan flour in your muffins and quick breads. If you’d like to grind your own pecans into flour, remember to toast them first to dry them out — when you grind raw pecans, they turn into pecan butter. Then again, that’s lovely, too, so if you wind up with a jar of that, rejoice!
These cinnamon-coffee pecans are easy to make and are also easy to customize to your taste buds: since coffee varies quite a bit in flavor from bean to bean, the type of bean you choose will greatly determine how the pecans taste. I like light roast, so that’s what I used in my recipe. You could just as easily opt for dark roast. Bear in mind that dark-roasted beans have a more robust flavor but less caffeine than lightly roasted beans. That’s a handy thing to know if you’re trying to notch down on your caffeine intake.
After you’ve made one or two batches of these pecans, feel free to play with the proportions of coffee, cinnamon, and honey. Just don’t skimp on the butter!
Cinnamon-Coffee Pecans Makes about 1/2 cup pecans. Feel free to double or triple the recipe as you like.
1/2 cup raw pecan halves (you’re better off with halves than pieces — the pieces will be more likely to burn)
2 T. butter, preferably from grass-fed cows (I love Kerrygold)
1 T. freshly ground coffee
1 T. honey
1 tsp. cinnamon
Melt butter in a smallish skillet over medium heat. (You want the nuts to have enough room to not overlap, but they should almost touch. I find that a 7″ pan works well. Try putting the nuts in first to “size” the pan, then take them out and melt the butter.) Add pecans and reduce heat to medium-low. Sauté for 3 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally. Add remaining ingredients and sauté for an additional 5 minutes, flipping the pecans over several times to make sure that the coffee and cinnamon are evenly dispersed.
Slide pecans onto a plate and let cool completely before storing in an airtight container. Pecans will keep at room temp for 1 week or in the fridge for 2 weeks, although they’ll get less crisp as time marches on. But don’t worry — eating them quickly won’t be a problem. Making enough of them to have any leftovers will be the problem! They’re great as snacks, added to desserts, stirred into cereal, or even served with savory dishes like roast chicken or tomato-based stews.