Sweet and Spicy (and sticky) Cashews

I made these tasty little delights for Superbowl Sunday.

sweet spicy cashews 2

The recipe comes from Juli Bauer at paleOMG. She posted her Smoky and Spicy Candied Cashews in January, just in time for the Superbowl. I didn’t have enough cashews to follow the recipe exactly, so I winged it and I’m fairly certain I screwed up the process a bit so they came out a bit sticky. BUT, they were yummy and I learned from my mistake for next time.

Juli’s recipe calls for the following:


  • ¼ cup honey
  • 2 teaspoons coconut oil, melted
  • ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, divided
  • ¼ teaspoon salt, divided
  • 2 cups raw cashews
  • 2 tablespoons coconut sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • pinch of salt
 The instructions are as follows:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Whisk together honey, coconut oil, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, and salt in a medium bowl.
  3. Add the cashews to the bowl and coat in the mixture. Pour the cashews on the baking sheet and spread out.
  4. In a small bowl, mix together coconut sugar, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, and salt. Sprinkle the crystal mixture on top of the nuts.
  5. Bake for 15 minutes, tossing the nuts every 5 minutes to ensure they cooked evenly.
  6. Remove from oven, slide the parchment paper onto a cooling rack and let cool completely.
  7. Once the nuts have cooled, break apart the pieces that have stuck together.

I only had 1.5 cups of cashews. So I tried to reduce all the other ingredients but it was not an exact science. Mixing the nuts in the bowl with the coconut oil, honey, paprika, cayenne, and salt went fine. I laid them out on the parchment paper below and dusted them with the dry mix of sugar and spices.

sweet spicy cashews

Where I went wrong was when I took them out of the oven at 5 minutes to turn them. They didn’t look anything like the (beautiful) photo on Juli’s site. I was worried that maybe I didn’t put enough sugar and/or honey on them. So, I dusted them with more of the dry sugar and spices. Which, btw, I should mention that I knew I had made far more of the dry mix than I was going to need. Or so I thought. Once knee-deep in the baking, I second guessed myself and it went terribly wrong. LOL  I’ve never baked anything quite like this before. I think it’s probably somewhat similar to making brittle. Because that’s the direction mine took eventually. When I took them out at 10 minutes to stir them again, I again misjudged how things were going and I dumped the rest of my dry mix on the nuts. When I took them out at 15 minutes, the sugar had bubbled up into a huge ball surrounding and obscuring the nuts. The moment they were out of the heat, the bubble fell, coating the nuts. I stirred them and pulled the parchment off the tray, placing it onto a wire cookie sheet to cool, which was a balancing act since I had ton of molten lava sugar all over the paper. But, I got it on the wire rack with no spills or burns and I hoped that it would cool and harden so I could “break the pieces apart that stuck together” as the recipe instructed. This, didn’t, happen. Another fail on my part, I think, was my choice to make this on a day with high humidity and I had the house at about 72 degrees. So, while the nuts and sugar cooled to a touchable temperature, the sugar never solidified. After a couple of hours I had a sticky, gooey, mess of nuts that I had to just pull apart and remove as much of the excess sugar as I could. I used WAY too much sugar (and probably honey too.)

So. Lesson learned. Next time I make these, I’m going to have 2 cups of cashews and I’m going to follow the measurements exactly, and I’m NOT going to worry when the nuts don’t look quite right at the beginning of the baking. I have faith that after 15 minutes they will look more like the finished product without tossing oodles of extra sugar on them.

Faith is the bird that feels the light when the dawn is still dark.
~ Rabindranath Tagore

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