I know few people who have NOT at least tried the wonder of stovetop candied pecans? It’s almost a rite of passage here in the south! One of my favorite childhood memories was picking pecans in Batesburg, South Carolina with my brother. My dad is from there so we would spend some summers there with my grandparents and cousins. The pecan trees were GIANT and I was always mesmerized by the amount of pecans that surrounded the perimeter of the tree on the ground. Seemed to be never-ending!
So, suffice it to say, I’ve had just about every pecan dish known to mankind (or at least a Southerner). Have you heard of Dixie sweet potatoes? Imagine sweet potato pie and pecan pie had a baby.
Then there’s stovetop candied pecans! A sweet treat that can elevate the flavor of nearly any dish or can be enjoyed by itself.
It got me thinking – where did the original idea of candying nuts – candied pecans – come from? What are candied pecans and from where did they originate?
What Are Candied Pecans?
Candied pecans are essentially pecans that have been coated in a hardened spiced sugary syrup. It is often made with ingredients like brown sugar and cinnamon.
The nuts are then baked or cooked until they’re glazed with this sweet and spiced mix. Once the nuts and syrup cool to room temperature, a delightfully crunchy exterior with the warm, nutty flavor of the pecan is left.
The History of Candied Pecans
Though candied nuts have likely been around for centuries across many cultures, candied pecans definitely have roots in the Southern US. Pecan trees, which are native to North America, became a staple of the Southern diet. This is why they were such a big part of my childhood – South Carolina was FULL of pecan trees!
I couldn’t find any exact dates but I’m guessing it wasn’t long before folks started experimenting with the rich flavors of brown sugar and adding softer nuts like pecans, birthing what we now know as candied pecans. Over the years, these treats have evolved from simple family recipes to gourmet store staples and even incorporating into meal prep as a sweet snack option.
Stovetop vs. Oven: The Benefits of Skillet Candied Pecans
When it comes to how to make candied pecans, there are two primary methods: on the stove using a skillet or baked in an oven.
While both methods have their merits, making them in a skillet offers some distinct advantages:
- Speed: Skillet candied pecans can be ready in a fraction of the time compared to their oven-baked counterparts.
- Control: Cooking on the stove allows you to monitor the caramelization process closely, ensuring that the nuts don’t overcook.
- Texture: Achieve a crispier exterior with the direct heat from the skillet.
The Sweet Health Benefits of Brown Sugar and Cinnamon
Pecans are not the only ingredient providing health benefits!
Brown sugar contains trace minerals like potassium and magnesium and calcium, which white sugar lacks due to its refining process.
Additionally, cinnamon, a staple in many recipes for candied pecans, is lauded for its anti-inflammatory properties and ability to regulate blood sugar.
Ok, now on to the stovetop candied pecans recipe with…cashews!