Monday 4 August 2008


cakebrain's macadamia nut snack blend

Okay, I concede that maybe it was a fluke, but on my first try with experimenting with ingredients, I was able to produce a reasonable facsimile of my favourite Sahale nut blend: sans hazelnuts. I like hazelnuts with chocolate, but not as a cheapie filler ingredient in a nut blend. My feeling is the hazelnuts are unnecessary. Since you're saving money not buying the name-brand snack mix, go splurge and use all macadamias!

this is pretty darned close to the sahale blend i like except i don't like hazelnuts in there so i omitted them

i insist you use the finest organic ingredients you can get your hands on 'cause...well, you deserve only the best. here you can see the brand of brown rice syrup i used in my mix

Instead of the tapioca syrup that Sahale uses, I opted for an organic Brown Rice syrup. I figured it should work just as well.

And it did. Just make sure you line your sheet pan with parchment paper and separate the clumped up nuts. This takes time, but it's worth it. I tossed my organic diced dried fruit in afterwards, but I imagine you could probably incorporate them in with the nuts at the same time with a similar effect.

Here's what I did.

The following recipe is the one I created on the fly. I just read the ingredients list on the back of the package! hee hee. pretty sneaky, huh? I used proportions according to the order they were listed in the ingredients list. Kind of. You can add more heat by increasing the chipotle or adding some other form of heat you prefer. The snack isn't sweet at all, which totally surprised me. I think you could add some additional crunch and sweetness by incorporating some evaporated cane sugar to the wet ingredients.

here's a chunk of organic unsulphured papaya alongside some organic dried mango. i admit, the mango is tougher than the softer sulphured variety, but the flavour is clean and intense

I'd like to think that my "secret" knockoff recipe is just as good as the Sahale blend and now that you've got the basic idea, you can borrow it if you want and do your own thing with your own combo of spices, nuts and dried fruit. Can you just imagine the possibilities? I'm so totally excited!

another difference: it's way cheaper per pound and you can customize it to your tastes

Please share the knowledge and do link back to me and give me a comment about how your blend turned out because I'm interested in seeing what other people can do with the basic recipe! This way everyone out there can share the nut love!

I have since purchased and tasted the other Sahale mixes and still prefer the Macadamia blend and the Pecan blend. The one with Cashews has peanuts (yuck!) in it and the Pistachio & pepitas one isn't my favourite because the flavours just don't jive with my tastebuds. Perhaps I should omit the peanuts and up the cashew quotient and see... There's no helping the pistachio blend because it's the combination of spices along with the figs and sesame seeds that I'm kind of averse to. There are better ways for me to waste calories than this one.

In fact, here's a good way to waste calories in my recipe below. Please exercise caution as these are addictive.

1 1/2 cups organic whole macadamia nuts
2 T organic brown rice syrup
1 T organic evaporated cane juice (omit if you don't like it too sweet; increase if you have a sweet tooth!)
1/8 t organic dried cilantro
1/8 t organic chipotle peppers (i purchased dried whole chipotles and grated them on my microplane grater); if you like heat increase the amount called for or add another form of heat
1/4 t pink himalayan sea salt
1/8 t garam masala [i didn't have cumin, so i used garam masala--which has cumin in it! substitute with cumin if you don't have garam masala]
1/4 cup diced organic unsulphured mango and papaya

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a small saucepan, heat the brown rice syrup, the evaporated cane juice and all the dried spices and salt. Mix well and continue stirring until the mixture is bubbly.
  3. Add the macadamia nuts and coat well, stirring constantly; be careful not to break the nuts!
  4. Spread the nuts out on the parchment-lined sheet and try to separate them as best as you can.
  5. Bake for 8-10 inutes, or until golden brown and the syrup has bubbled around the nuts.
  6. Set the baking sheet on a rack to cool slightly. Lift the nuts out and break off and discard any huge chunks of syrup that may have pooled around the nuts. Toss in the diced dried fruit.
  7. Serve with a tall, chilled glass of beer or if you're feeling really civilized, a little glass of pastis (my choice!) with ice. See here for a pastis cocktail! Nothing like apƩritifs de pastis to make you feel like you're in Provence! even if you are only in Vancouver *sigh*
  8. Store in a tightly sealed container (I include a package of dessicant in my container so that the nuts don't clump together as much).

I figure with this basic recipe and method, you can use any nut, dried fruit and spice blend. I'm going to try making the pecan blend next!

These make beautiful little gifts wrapped in cellophane and ribbon or really classy trail mix for day-hikes up the North Shore mountains.

Ahhh. The North Shore Mountains! these nuts would taste great along with your ice-cold water sipped from your trendy Sigg bottle as you sat atop a mountain looking down on Vancouver!

By the way, the "Grouse Grind" is an intense hike; almost straight up a mountain that fit locals in Vancouver like to climb. People often brag about their "time", as in "I did the Grind in 32 minutes!" You'll often hear Vancouverites asking friends out to "The Grind" instead of going out for coffee. My friend's first date with a girl was on The Grind. He was able to check her out by following her as she climbed up the mountain! pretty smart, huh? The Grind is kind of a social thing that some of us Vancouverites like to do, like meeting at Jericho Beach for some beach volleyball (and a beach bbq afterwards) or a mountain bike ride through the UBC Endowment lands. And there's always at least one colleague at work who belongs to a Dragon Boat team. I must admit though that these activities are dominated by the 20-somethings. This is the active West Coast lifestyle I miss and had to put on hold because of kids. However, I'm intending to get back to it as soon as they're ready to come along with me! Fortunately, Vancouver offers plenty of outdoor activities for families too.

If you find yourself in Vancouver, and you're fit, this is a cool way to see the locals. Dress appropriately (it is a hike, y'know) by not wearing flip-flops and looking like a dweeb tourist. Do wear hiking boots and bring appropriate hiking gear and lots of water. Oh, and don't forget my classy trail mix. No, you don't need camping gear. Hopefully you won't be that slow! It's an intense aerobic workout and is known as "Nature's Stairmaster". If you're a newbie, give yourself at least 2 hours. If you're fit, you'll love it and be done in under an hour.

I know friends who go up once a week all summer. The hike is 1.8 miles (2.9 km) and the elevation gain is 2,800 feet (853 metres). The summit of the hike brings you to 3,700 feet (1,127 metres) above sea level. If you're interested in trying it out, check out this site.

Since having kids, I haven't done the Grind, but when they're a bit older, I hope to take up hiking again. Though I have done the Grind, it wasn't all too fun because it's just a straight climb and not too scenic compared to other trails. All you see are people's butts going up (not too bad a view if you're into that kind of thing, I suppose). I personally enjoy the longer, windier hikes in the North Shore Mountains. I liked hiking Mt. Fromme, which is about 10 km in length and takes about 4 hours. In the summer, you can pick wild blueberries all the way down (just watch out for bears).

And do bring my nut mix with you for energy!


Manggy said...

I can't believe I actually have himalayan pink salt so I can make this! They actually indicated that on the Sahale package? Awesome. Yeah, I just learned that they list the ingredients in decreasing weight percentage. Awesome.

I've never had a solitary hazelnut-- it's always in something-- so I can't quite say if I don't like it. As it stands, I think I do :P

Anamika:The Sugarcrafter said...

hi cakebrain
that's quite an interesting revelation...simply loved your decoding methodology....with hazelnuts and thanks for passing by my have so much to share and i will learn a lot !

Cakebrain said...

Well, actually the Sahale blend states in the ingredients list "sea salt", but I had pink himalayan salt so I used it. I figure it would only make it better anyway!
Wha'? you haven't had Nutella yet have you? that's chock full of hazelnuts; as is Ferrero Rocher chocolates. Yum!

cakewardrobe said...

You totally decoded the science of perfection!

SteamyKitchen said...

Sooo perfect to pair with beer! Ok, sorry if you don't drink, but I'm always looking for great beer pairing snacks!!

test it comm said...

That looks so good! Spiced macadamia nuts sound perfect. That brown rice syrup sounds interesting; I will have to look for it.


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