Cinnamon maple cayenne toasted walnuts – only four ingredients, spicy-sweet, quick and easy, healthy. Great for topping salads or just for snacking.
In the world of trying to cook spectacular food and not put in a ton of effort (my LIFE), there are certain, unexpectedly simple ways to manipulate ingredients to get a mega-huge flavor boost. One of those things is toasting, and I don’t mean just bread (though that also makes some serious food magic happen. <3 toast <3). You can toast so many things! Coconut, quinoa, oats, any kind of nut. Seriously, haven’t you ever gone to a restaurant or skimmed a magazine article and seen a fancy title along the lines of: Salmon Salad with Cinnamon Toasted almonds, or Pumpkin Muffins with Toasted Pepitas. And then you try it, and it’s amazing, and you’re like, the cinnamon toasted almonds MAKE that salad. I order it every time I go to that place! You see, those cinnamon toasted almonds make that dish special for you, so you go to that restaurant for that salad with those cinnamon toasted almonds. (This may or may not be based on a real salad at a real restaurant in a true story experienced and now written by me.)
But, while toasting nuts or other ingredients is just as special as it seems, it’s not as fancy as it seems. Well… okay, it’s totally as fancy as it seems. But what I’m trying to say is, this level of fanciness is not out of your reach. It’s so easy, and you should do it almost every time you cook or bake with nuts because the effort is small but the flavor is BIG. And I mean in a game changing way. Some business-y people would call it a high return on investment.
So here I am one day just toasting nuts for salad toppings and other things and stuff, and I suddenly get an idea about flavoring toasted walnuts with cinnamon and maple syrup, and how easy they would be to make. And then cayenne because of course I had to one-up my previous idea. Plus, that whole spicy-sweet thing always wins over my heart. And my buds. (My tastebuds ;)). And that’s how these cinnamon maple cayenne toasted walnuts were born.
But before I get to the cinnamon maple cayenne toasted walnuts recipe, we need to start with the basics. Because like I said earlier, toasting ingredients is a mad kitchen skill that takes you from delicious to fancy AND delicious in just a few minutes.
A Few Things You Can Toast & A Few Recipes:
- Nuts and seeds. All the kinds: almonds, walnuts, pecans, pepitas (pumpkin seeds), sunflower seeds, hazelnuts, pistachios. You name it! Just place them in a dry skillet and toast over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until fragrant. Usually this takes about 4-5 minutes. Try adding to salads, baked goods, pesto, nut butters, or anything required nuts or seeds as an ingredient.
- Grains. Oats, quinoa, brown rice, farro, or any grain you like. Before cooking, place the grain of choice in a pot on the stove. Toast on medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until fragrant (usually around 5 minutes). Then add water or broth and cook according to package instructions. For grains that you use in granola bars or similar foods (such as oats or quinoa), you can toast them in a skillet before baking via the same method. Try this toasted oatmeal recipe from A Couple Cooks.
- Coconut. Similar to nuts and seeds. Makes a great dessert topping. Try it in these No Bake Energy Bites over at Gimme Some Oven <— oh so good.
But now for the goods: these cinnamon maple cayenne toasted walnuts. Where do I even start? Probably first that my challenge to you is not to eat them all at once, because they’re definitely one of those kinds of snacks. Interestingly, the cayenne makes your tastebuds more receptive to sweetness, so they’d take this Carrot Cake Baked Oatmeal, or similar baked recipes with walnuts, to the next level. Other than that, they’re great toppings for salads or vanilla ice cream or almost anything you can think of that needs a lil bit of spicy sweet.
And the best part? The recipe name itself encompasses all of the ingredients — there are only four! Maple syrup (or you could substitute honey or agave), walnuts, cayenne pepper and cinnamon. Definitely take care with the cayenne pepper, but don’t be too shy with it either. The first time I made this recipe, I was very conservative with the amount of cayenne I used. When my mom and I sampled them after, we both agreed that I could’ve added a few more shakes of cayenne. You know, just enough to get that zing without having your nose hairs singed off.
So here it is: your cinnamon maple cayenne toasted walnuts recipe. You won’t be disappointed! And neither will your neighbors or house guests or spouses, because it smells really good when you make it 🙂
- 1 cup walnuts
- 2 Tbsp pure maple syrup
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ¼ tsp cayenne pepper, plus a few more gentle shakes
- Place walnuts in a bowl. Pour maple syrup over walnuts and toss. Add cinnamon and cayenne pepper, and toss again until evenly coated.
- Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add walnuts to dry skillet and allow to cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant (usually around 5 minutes).
- Remove from heat and allow to cool for 5 more minutes.