Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Week 6: Glazed Almond-Cranberry Snack Clusters

This is a guest post by Brilliant Daughter.

Everybody loves a good snack. Some people prefer salty chips or pretzels or maybe something sweet like M&Ms or a chocolate chip cookie. I, personally, love nutty snacks. My go-to brand is Sahale, which makes a series of nut-based snacks that rotate throughout the year. I’ve tried several of them, but I always go back to the first flavor I found at Costco—Almonds with Cranberries, Honey, and Sea Salt. I won’t tell you how many bags of this stuff I’ve gone through—and the lengths I’ve gone to find it when it is out of rotation.

For Christmas, my roommate got me the Sriracha Cookbook. Having lived with me for 6 months, she noticed my addiction to this spicy sauce. The first recipe I made was for kicked-up party nuts (which I’m sure we’ll blog about sometime in the future as they are equally addicting as the sauce itself). It got me to thinking that I could use the basic premise of the recipe to recreate my favorite Sahale snack.

The process took about 5 minutes plus the baking time, and in the end I was rewarded with a close approximation that will keep me stocked up and satisfied during the off-season. The nice thing about this recipe is that you can change it up based on what you have in the pantry or your own flavor preferences. You can use different kinds of nuts, different dried fruits, a higher ration of fruit to nut, or even add in spices (cinnamon, cardamom) or spiciness (like aforementioned Sriracha or red chile flakes). The combinations are endless.

To toast sesame seeds: Heat a skillet over medium heat and add the seeds. Shake every 20 seconds or so until they are a golden brown. Remove from heat.

Make your own vanilla sea salt: Slice a vanilla bean lengthwise and combine with 1/3 cup coarse 
sea salt. Store in an airtight container, shaking daily for one week.

Honeyed Almonds and Cranberries with Vanilla Sea Salt
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
1 teaspoon coarse vanilla sea salt
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
8 oz blanched slivered almonds
4 oz dried cranberries, roughly chopped
1 egg white
1 teaspoon water
1 tablespoon orange blossom honey

Heat the oven to 250 degrees and line a jellyroll pan with Silpat, parchment or wax paper.

Combine the sesame seeds, sea salt, and brown sugar in a small bowl. In a medium bowl, toss the almonds and cranberries. In another small bowl, whip the egg, water, and honey with a fork until frothy and amalgamated.

Pour the liquid mixture over the nuts/cranberries and stir with a spatula to coat. Add in the dry ingredients, and stir until there are no more dry pockets.

Spread mixture evenly onto prepared pan (it’s OK if it’s not quite a single layer—that’ll create heartier pieces) and bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.

Allow to cool and then break into bite-sized pieces. Store in an airtight container.

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