The Confident Kitchen Series
If you want to “step it up a notch” in your kitchen, whether a professional kitchen or a home kitchen, Roast Your Nuts before using them in your recipe. It is a surefire way to elevate the taste of your food in both cooking and baking from flavourless to outstanding.
Why bother? You would not consider having a cup of coffee with un-roasted beans, would you? Have you ever eaten a cookie, cake or bread that has the addition of nuts that really did not deliver the taste you were expecting?
- A chocolate chip pecan cookie
- Hazelnut Raisin Bread
- Granola Bars or granola
- German Chocolate Cake with traditional coconut & pecan filling
- Bar nuts, candied nuts, spiced nuts, etc.
As well, other food-related items that are not baked but have nuts added, such as:
- A spinach salad with goat cheese, cranberries, sliced pears and candied pecans (that were not roasted beforehand)
- A pesto with pine nuts or walnuts that were not roasted
Roast Your Nuts!
If only that extra step could have been taken to roast the nuts, all of the above items would have had epic flavours, rather than wishy-washy. Vanilla can go only so far in enhancing the flavour of baked items, just as the very best Parmigiano-Reggiano will be underappreciated without that additional step of toasting or roasting the pine nuts to develop the very best flavour in the fresh pesto.
The best example of why I feel that this step of roasting your nuts is important is best described with a true story. Granola bars were a very popular item for golfers and guests at my former place of work at the Calgary Golf and Country Club where I was employed as their pastry chef. Because of the enormous popularity of the granola bars, they would sometimes disappear as quickly as we could make them. I always had a backup made but sometimes they were just too popular! My beloved chef once told me with a twinkle in his eye that he thought he might have to hire someone full-time just to keep up with these granola bars!
Further, and to continue with the story, sometimes another employee was assigned on my day off of work to make a batch of granola bars in a replenishment-panic. This particular recipe has five different types of nuts, and my practice was to toast each and every type of nut (as well as the seeds in the recipe) carefully on trays until they were toasted and fragrant before adding them to the rest of the granola bar ingredients. In my absence from work, it was discovered that this important step had been dismissed and completely omitted by the employees who were asked to make them. What a difference it made to the end result and a memorable lesson learned by the employee after an outpouring of complaints. With that in mind, let’s go through the importance of roasting nuts by reviewing the list once again.
- The Chocolate Chip Pecan Cookies: toast the pecans until fragrant, cool and then add to the cookie dough will elevate this traditional toll-house cookie to a whole new level of flavour.
- Hazelnut Raisin Bread: Toast the hazelnuts. Remove some of the hazelnut skins by rubbing briskly with a tea towel, cool and add to the bread dough mixture. This will create a true artisan bread. A little extra trouble, but it is so worth the effort.
- German Chocolate Cake with traditional Coconut & Pecan Filling: Toast the pecans as well as toast the coconut. Spread the coconut on a separate tray, toast for 2 – 3 minutes – watch carefully. The coconut oil browns quickly. Remove when the outer edges are golden, turn a bit with a spatula and return to the oven for another minute or two. Cool and use in your baking to elevate flavours deliciously.
- Bar Nuts: Definitely toast the nuts before adding the spice mixture! Toast a few minutes longer after the spice rub is introduced and you have a house speciality as popular as Union Square bar nuts.
- Spinach Salad with goat cheese, cranberries, pear slices and candied pecans: Roast the pecans before adding the sugar to candy the pecans. This simple process will make such a difference in the taste and crunch of this outstanding salad.
- Or a simple salad of shredded spinach, orange segments, pomegranate seeds, goat cheese crumbles and roasted pecans. Delicious!
So! Roasting your nuts will “step it up a notch” and for that matter, significantly improve the flavours of all those recipes that need help.
Please CLICK the link above to access my UrbnSpice LEARNING TIPS, which are listed alphabetically on the Learning Tips blog post under the following subheadings:
- Roasting Your Nuts
You Might also be Interested in these Urb’n’Spice articles:
Four Ways to Toast Nuts + Video