After squaring away my smoked salt for our holiday gift swap, I had to jump right onto the next project. We have 21 people showing up here Tuesday morning for Christmas Brunch. The pressure is on.
Next up after the smoked salt was the pretzel-nut-chex mix, a cross between the snack blend made using Chex cereal and a much tastier one developed by David Lebovitz, who calls it the best holiday snack ever. You can find his recipe on his website or in his charming book, The Sweet Life in Paris. I won’t presume to have improved on his formula, but here’s how I make it.
This recipe presents a perfect opportunity to use up any extra nuts you have on hand and replenish your supply for the new year. I store mine in the freezer to keep the oils from going rancid. I used Cascadian Farms Multigrain Squares. This allows me to gobble up as much of the nut mix as I like under the guise of eating something healthy. Of course, I finished the party mix with a sprinkling of that spicy smoked salt, but any old salt will do.
If your nuts are not already toasted, spread them out on a baking sheet and bake in a 350F oven for about 12 minutes, until they just begin to smell toasty.
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar (light or dark)
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger, allspice, or cardamom, or a mixture of one or more of these
- ½ teaspoon Hungarian hot paprika or ¼ teaspoon Calabrian peperoncino
- ¼ teaspoon pimenton de la vera (smoked Spanish paprika)
- 2 cups lightly toasted nuts (I used macadamia nuts, pecans, and pistachios, only because those are the ones it was time to replace. In the past, I've also enjoyed peanuts and whole skin-on almonds in the mix.)
- 2 cups small pretzel twists or sticks
- 2 cups Cascadian Farms Multigrain Squares, Chex, or other waffle-type cereal
- ¾ teaspoon smoked salt, Maldon sea salt, grey salt, or kosher salt
- Preheat the oven to 350F with racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Line two rimmed baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper.
- Heat the butter and brown sugar in a 4-quart soup pot over medium heat, stirring until the butter melts. Stir in the maple syrup, soy sauce, ginger, paprika, and pimenton until well mixed.
- Remove from the heat and immediately stir in the nuts to coat them evenly. Add the pretzels, stir to coat, then add the cereal and continue stirring to completely coat everything with the buttery spice mixture.
- Spread the mixture onto the prepared baking sheets in a single layer, as much as possible. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until toasty and fragrant, stirring the mixture and rotating the pans front to back and top to bottom half way through baking.
- Immediately after removing the pans from the oven, sprinkle the party mix evenly with the smoked or other salt. Let cool completely on the baking sheets, then break up any clumps with your fingers and store the party mix in an airtight container at room temperature for a week or longer.
Don’t forget to have a party!