The copper bowls you see in steaming pushcarts around New York City are an important part of the secret recipe for honey-roasted nuts brought to the city from Argentina in 1984. Since copper is such an excellent conductor of heat, the bowls enable the sugar to more evenly and efficiently crystallize on the nuts. Argentinean Alejandro Rad was a honey-roasted nut vendor in the city in the late ’80s, and in 1993 he started his own brand of honey roasted nuts—first called Nuts About Nuts. The name was later changed to Nuts 4 Nuts and now around 100 Nuts 4 Nuts pushcarts can be found all around Manhattan.

It was at one of those carts on a cold winter night that I convinced the vendor to let me watch him make a batch of honey roasted peanuts. For fifteen minutes or so I watched as he cooked down the mixture of nuts and syrup in his copper bowl, then grabbed the bowl by its long wooden handle and tossed the nuts in the air until crystals formed on them. He then put the nuts back over the fire until the sugar melted to a syrup, again forming a candy coating on each peanut.

Certainly a copper bowl with a long handle for tossing the nuts would be the best way to properly re-create this recipe, but those are expensive and hard to find. The good news is you can still re-create these nuts by cooking them in a regular copper bowl (no long handle necessary) or in a stainless steel skillet that isn’t nonstick. You will need raw nuts here for this recipe, which can be found online or at stores like Whole Foods. You can also use raw cashews or almonds with this technique, just as the street vendors do.

1 cup water
1 tablespoon honey
⅔ cup granulated sugar
9 ounces (approx. 2 cups) raw peanuts

Cooking method

1-Combine the water, honey, and granulated sugar in a 12-inch stainless steel skillet or copper bowl over medium heat. Stir the mixture as it heats to dissolve the sugar.

2-When the sugar is dissolved and the syrup is bubbling, add the nuts. Cook for 6 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the syrup thickens and reduces and begins to turn a light amber color. Turn off the heat and continue to stir the nuts until the sugar crystallizes.

3-When the nuts are well coated with sugar crystals, put the pan back on the heat. As the sugar begins to melt over the heat and caramelize, continue stirring the nuts until the sugar is light brown and the nuts begin to darken in spots. Pour the nuts out onto wax paper or a nonstick silicone mat to cool. If the pan begins to smoke, your heat is up too high and you should immediately take the pan off the heat and stir the nuts to keep them from burning, then reduce the heat and continue cooking the nuts until they are light brown in color.

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