Glazed with sherry, sugar, and cinnamon, pecan halves are gently roasted to create an ideal food gift for the holidays.
We often mark the holidays with certain foods. Latkes for Hannukah. Cookies for Christmas. Yams for Kwanza. I’ll bet you’re thinking now of that dish that says “it’s the holidays” for you. In our house, cookies heralded the season, and Mom and Grandma started baking right after Thanksgiving. But for one of my great-aunts, pecans were the treat for Christmas.
Not just any pecans! These were Nan Tubbesing’s Sherried Pecans, and it’s the first recipe to start the December series, “Gifts in Good Taste.”
Aunt Nan was my grandma's sister-in-law, and my family celebrated Christmas with Bob (Grandma’s brother), Nan, and their son, Robert. Sometimes we were there for Christmas Eve dinner and then went to church together for worship. Other years, our visit fell between Christmas Day and New Year’s. Nan’s Sherried Pecans were a holiday staple; she always had small bowls of these delicious nuts sitting out for her guests to enjoy.
Sherried Pecans are easy to make—an important factor during the crazy month of December—and have many uses. In addition to a great nibble on their own, add these pecans to a charcuterie board. They’re delicious in a salad. For those who love cocktails at home, include a bag of Sherried Pecans with a bottle of someone’s favorite wine or liquor to make happy hour a joy. These are perfect hostess gifts to take to the many parties that happen this time of year. Let’s get cooking!
To make Nan Tubbesing’s Sherried Pecans recipe, which makes 10 servings, you’ll need these ingredients:
1½ cups sugar
½ cup sherry
3 cups pecan halves
½ teaspoon cinnamon
Directions to make Sherried Pecans
In a medium pan, add sherry and sugar and cook over low heat while stirring to dissolve sugar. Turn up the heat to medium-high and watch for mixture to start boiling. You want to bring sugar and sherry to the soft-ball stage. This is 235 degrees F.
If you don’t have a candy thermometer, carefully spoon a few drops of the mixture into an ice bath. After waiting several seconds for the hot syrup to cool, it should form a pliable, soft ball when squished between your fingers.
Important tip: hot sugar syrup can cause severe burns! Be careful when working with the sherry and sugar syrup. Keep the ice bath near your stove.
Once soft-ball stage is achieved, remove from heat and stir in pecans and add cinnamon. This mixture will turn cloudy.
Spread nuts evenly on a buttered cookie sheet. Bake at 325 degrees for 15 minutes, stirring nuts every 5 minutes. To cool, transfer onto a clean baking sheet. Package as desired for gift giving.
How to store Sherried Pecans
Store these pecans in an airtight container for up to a month. They can freeze up to three months, but I guarantee they won’t be around that long! Happy Holidays!