Recipes on this page were developed or tested by Cece Sullivan of the Times food staff and were evaluated by staff members.
The following recipe is from "China Moon Cookbook" by Barbara Tropp.
CHINESE CRACKERJACKS About 2 cups; approximate preparation time 35 minutes
1 cup shelled hazelnuts
1 cup shelled peanuts
1 1/2 whole star anise, broken into 12 points
6 whole cloves
2 teaspoons Szechwan peppercorns
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1. Place the hazelnuts and peanuts in a small baking pan and toast in a preheated 350-degree oven 10-15 minutes, until the skins start to crack. Place batches in a kitchen towel and rub together to remove the skins.
2. Finely grind the anise, cloves and peppercorns in a spice grinder. Combine with the sugar, salt, pepper and cinnamon.
3. Heat a large heavy skillet, such as cast iron, or a wok over high heat until hot enough to evaporate a bead of water on contact. Add the nuts and toss until the nuts are hot to the touch and the nut oil has come to the surface, about 1 minute. Reduce the heat if needed to prevent scorching.
4. Sprinkle the nuts with half the seasoning mixture, then shake the pan vigorously until the sugar melts and turns a dark caramelized brown, about 1 minute. (Do not use a spatula or spoon for this process because the sugar will caramelize onto it instead
of the nuts. If needed, use a skewer or chopstick, which has less surface for the sugar to stick to.)
5. Add the remaining sugar mixture and continue shaking the pan until the sugar melts again and coats the nuts.
6. Immediately turn the nuts onto a foil-lined baking sheet. Use your fingers to separate the nuts when cool enough to handle, then let them cool completely. Store in a tightly sealed, clean glass jar.
Note: A simplified version of this recipe was also done with 1/2 teaspoon five spice powder, omitting the anise, cloves and Szechwan peppercorns. Add to the sugar with the salt, black pepper, cinnamon and a pinch of cayenne. Proceed with the recipe.
Data per 2-tablespoon serving Calories 130 Protein 4g Fat 10g Carbohydrates 9g Sodium 67mg Saturated fat 1g Monounsaturated fat 6g Polyunsaturated fat 2g Cholesterol 0mg