We passed by harvested hazelnut orchards in the Willamette Valley a few weeks ago. I scooped up a handful off the ground and brought them home to admire their gnarly kernels.
I read the other day that 97% of the world’s hazelnuts are grown in Turkey, Spain and Italy, so it’s a bonus that we have some of the other 3% grown in Washington. Holmquist Hazelnut Orchards, located near Lyndon, Washington, sell year-round at local Farmers Markets. Why not put grown in Washington or Oregon hazelnuts at the top of the holiday grocery list?
The hazelnut has a diverse repertoire. I found a recipe for a Spicy Nut Salsa with Blue Cheese the other day which sounds both odd and delicious; there’s Hazelnut flour and oil to consider, and Spicy Candied Hazelnuts (photo above, recipe below). Comforting to know that there’s a culinary nut of this stature grown right in our own backyard.
Spicy Candied hazelnuts are easy to make and I’ve eaten too many already. They can be served by the bowlful or sprinkled on greens with a fresh pear and a tangy cheese for fancy salad. Begin with 2 C roasted or unroasted hazelnuts. If unroasted, roast hazelnuts in a 325º oven for 12 – 15 minutes. Hazelnuts are then supposed to shed their brown skins if you rub them vigorously in a dish towel – I’ve never found this to be true, but I pass it on anyway.
Spiced Candied Hazelnuts Recipe
Ingredients & Directions: Set aside 2 C roasted nuts/ Melt 2 T butter or olive oil with 1/3 cup sugar in a medium sauce pan/ Measure 2 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/2 – 1 tsp. *chipotle pepper powder, 1 tsp. Allspice/ Set aside 1 teaspoon of the spice mix for later/ With pan on medium – low heat, add remaining spices to butter and sugar mixture, stir to dissolve/ Stir in a small amount, 1-2 tsp., of water – it will sizzle and slightly liquefy the mix/ Add hazelnuts to pan, stir together, coat evenly and allow to cook for just a minute.
Spread out in one layer on parchment lined baking sheet and bake at 350º for approximately 8 minutes or until nuts are lightly browned and coating has hardened/ Remove from oven and toss piping hot hazelnuts into a large bowl along with any sugary goop leftover from the sauce pan/ Add the 1 teaspoon of reserved spices and mix it all thoroughly again/ Pop back into the oven for two more minutes, remove from oven, cool and store in airtight containers/ They keep well for up to two weeks, or let the munchies begin sooner rather than later.
*These are spicy hot – add more or fewer spices, a little less salt, according to preference.