Planning my birthday is seriously one of my favorite things to do. I pick a theme months in advance and then slowly dedicate myself to making invitations, buying decorations, practicing cake recipes, etc. (This kind of “birthday black hole” is why I haven’t been around much the last two weeks — too much to do!)
But there’s one thing I definitely love more than my birthday — and that is beer. Sweet, sweet beer. I often say that if given the choice between my kegerator or my wedding ring, the keg would win out. I’m (mostly) joking.
So to help celebrate my love for the hoppy, malty nectar of the gods, this year I decided my birthday party theme should be beer. And oh, trust me, this theme proved to be a contender for the best idea I’ve ever had.
But we’ll get to that in time…For now, welcome to the first in my “brew-day” series. To kick-off this series we will be making beer-candied pecans. And, yes, they are amazing.
See, I’m a big believer in party favors. I love to have little gifts for my friends to take home after the big night. These gifts are usually edible and always fit the theme. I toyed around with personalized pint glasses or beer koozies, but when the idea of beer sweets jumped in my head it seemed like the best way to go.
After a lot of research, my first project was these beer-candied pecans from The Beeroness. They were a dream — easy to make, required few ingredients, and were sweet enough but retained a slight bitter quality from the beer. They were salty and delicious and I would highly recommend giving them a try.
A few notes: I doubled the recipe but in hindsight, felt like I could have kept the caramel recipe the same and just doubled the nuts. There was so much caramel sauce that I poured nearly a half cup off the sheet pan before baking and now have a jar in my fridge for future enjoyment.
And second, I expected a harder crunchy nut, but mine had the slightly softer texture of a praline. Not a bad thing at all — just different. If you wanted something with a harder crack, you could try taking the caramel a bit further along. For me, I was happy enough with the results.
Hopefully my friends were too!
First select your beer, preferably something dark and not overly hoppy. I chose 10 Barrel‘s Pray for Snow. An ironic choice given my feelings toward snow, slush and winter in general, but a fine, tasty beer with malty notes of caramel and spice.
Start by reducing the beer down to a half a cup, then add the sugar and bring to 235 degrees. Stir in butter, and then add the nuts and salt. Spread mixture on a greased pan and bake for 30 minutes, stirring halfway through.
Once the sugar coating has set and the pecan are toasted through, pull and let cool. For the sake of your poor tongue, try to resist sampling them right away.