It’s that special time of year again when lovers shower significant others with gifts and praises, and singles do their best to disregard the festivities all together. Seeing as eating tends to play as large a part in this season as any other activity, it would feel almost sacrilege to boycott a Valentine’s Day post.
Now for those of you who still haven’t come up with a creative way to woo that special someone, fret no more! I’ve got a quick and easy nutty treat for your longtime love or secret admirer – and there’s a savory and spicy, or sweet and fruity option to choose from.
2-3 cups raw mixed nuts of your choice (almond, cashew, macadamia, brazil, hazelnut, walnuts are some recommendations)
3-4 tablespoons butter, chunks
3 fresh thyme sprigs, chopped
2 fresh rosemary sprigs, chopped
2 fresh sage sprigs, chopped
1 habanero/scotch bonnet pepper, cut to large chunks
1-2 teaspoons paprika (optional)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup milk chocolate
1 cup white chocolate
5-10 medjool dates, pitted
5-10 fresh cherries, pitted
¼ cup dried cranberries
1. Pour nuts into a large sauté pan and roast over medium-high heat until they start to brown – shake from time to time for even color. About 5-10 minutes.
Empty half the nuts into a bowl and set aside.
2. In a small pan, add chunks of butter over medium heat, stirring as butter melts. Bubbles will form. Once bubbles subside, swirl and watch carefully as butter changes to light brown color, giving off a nutty aroma (careful to remove from heat at this point as butter will turn black very quickly). Pour brown butter over pan with remaining nuts, mix well and resume roasting over medium heat. Add chopped herbs and pepper and continue to cook no more than about 5 minutes, stirring from time to time.
3. Season with paprika (if using), salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Pour into a container and let cool. Remove chunks of habanero/scotch bonnet pepper. (I also added some flaxseed chips because I heart them!)
4. Fill a pot with water no more than half way and bring to a boil. Place a clean heat resistant bowl over pot. Transfer milk chocolate to bowl and melt, stirring constantly for even melt. Once melted, remove from heat and add half of remaining nuts in chocolate, coating evenly. Transfer to a parchment paper lined tray (if possible), and try to separate as much as possible. Repeat process for white chocolate.
5. Cool chocolate in fridge – about 20 minutes.
6. Cut dates to about 4 pieces and add together with chocolate coated nuts, cherries and dried cranberries. Keep refrigerated.
8. Separately package and serve sweet and savory nuts to your loved one.