The thing about Christmas in the southern hemisphere is that the rich, spiced, warming flavours associated with the holiday don’t really suit our weather.
Gently warmed mulled wine scented with cloves doesn’t go down too well on a 32c/90F day. And a generous slice of pudding laden with drunken fruits and topped with warm, similarly boozy, custard is also out of place in Summer. But it doesn’t matter. My Christmas days have always featured this festive fare and I’ve merrily consumed bowls of plum pudding while sitting at the table in wet bathers, post Christmas swim.
This year, my in-laws have set a theme of “Australia” for Christmas Day. Everyone has been assigned a course and the food must fit within the theme. I haven’t decided on what to bring yet, but I love the idea of thinking beyond turkey, ham and all the traditional accompaniments. Perhaps yabbies will make an appearance? Or a whole fish wrapped in something fragrant and grilled on the BBQ? (If you’ve got any ideas, let me know!)
But. I can’t let tradition go completely. Last year, in the appropriately chilly climes of NYC, I made these nuts to serve as an accompaniment to cocktails on Christmas Day. The smell of roasting nuts filled my apartment and set the mood for a traditional meal. They were so delicious, I had to make them again this year.
The combination of butter and sugar should give you a hint that these nuts are a good thing. But throw salt flakes and the wonderfully unexpected and fragrant rosemary into the soft topping on these roasted nuts and you’re tastebuds will rejoice in the salty sweet flavour bomb. They are so incredibly moreish, you may be prudent to make extra, as you’ll definitely be “tasting” them as they cool.
These festive nuts are quick to make and are a perfect gift for party hosts, teachers, colleagues or that strange aunt you only see once a year. They’re also great served with drinks at the start of the night, or as a sweet treat with coffee at the end of your Christmas meal. No one will think they can fit any more food in, but they always can.
Serves 8, takes less than 30 minutes.
1 cup walnuts
1 cup pecans
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
1/3 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
Sea salt flakes
Preheat oven to 180 C/ 350 F and prep two baking sheets – one with and one without baking paper.
On the unlined baking sheet, roast nuts until golden and smelling delicious, around 12 minutes.
In a large pan, heat butter, sugar, and rosemary over medium-high till the butter has melted. Add nuts and stir until butter mixture is golden brown, around 3-5 minutes.
Spread the contents of your pan over your lined baking sheet and season with salt. Cool to room temperature, tossing occasionally, about 15 minutes.
Recipe from Everyday Food Magazine, 2007