I originally made these as a garnish for a fall soup I had made once, but they were so good I decided that they deserved to be more than just a garnish, and now I make them every Thanksgiving as an appetizer. I make them the night before and set them out Thanksgiving morning. Everyone grazes on them all day long while they wait for the feast, which I love because it gives them something to curb their appetites, but it's not so heavy that they don't have room for the dinner that I slaved over for two days. Win win.
Peanut or canola oil
4c walnut halves
1c sifted powdered sugar
1/2 t cayenne pepper
1/2 t ground cinnamon
pinch of salt
1/4 t freshly ground pepper
In a large skillet or fryer, heat 1 inch of oil to 350 degrees.
In a small bowl, stir together cayenne, cinnamon, salt, and pepper.
Bring a pot of water to a boil and blanch the walnuts for 30 seconds. Drain and transfer to a bowl. While the nuts are still hot and slightly damp, add powdered sugar and toss until coated, and all the sugar has melted into the nuts. The sugar must all be melted.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer the nuts in small batches into the hot oil. Fry until med. brown, about 45 seconds. Do not overcook. Scatter on a large baking sheet to let cool. Continue in small batches until all the nuts are fried.
While the nuts are still warm, transfer them to a bowl and toss with about half the spice mix (sprinkle it evenly over the top, it will clump if you just dump it). Add more spice mix to taste and toss well after each addition.
This will keep in an airtight container for 2 weeks. Wait until cool to store.