Today I am giving you quite possibly the easiest recipe that you can find on The Vivid Kitchen thus far. We’re taking a break from desserts and baked goods this week in lieu of making something that will work perfectly for your Super Bowl viewing party. I’m talking about bar nuts, and not just any bar nuts but Union Square Cafe’s version of the seriously addicting snack. For those who don’t know, Union Square Cafe is a famous restaurant in NYC and comes from the mastermind restaurateur, Danny Meyer. He later went on to open other highly accoladed spots like Gramercy Tavern and Eleven Madison Park, the latter being a Michelin-starred restaurant. Although Union Square Cafe is a high-end restaurant with a sophisticated menu, their bar nuts are almost as famous as the restaurant itself. A quick google search will show that I am far from the first person to share this recipe, but I’ve found that still, a good amount of people in my circle had never heard of or tried these I introduced them. So, I want to spread the bar nuts love a little further today!
I’ve made these bar nuts at least 15-20 times since I discovered the recipe in my coveted Genius Recipes cookbook from Food52, about 4 years ago. Every time I go to a Cinespia screening at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery where we picnic before viewing a film, it’s a no-brainer among my friends that I will be bringing a batch of the nuts. At my sister’s wedding, I made a HUGE batch of these, enough for 115 people, but with only almonds because we just so happened to find pounds of them in my mom’s freezer. Each table at the wedding had a cheese platter filled with crackers, fruit, and the seasoned almonds (my mom, aunt, and I made each platter mere hours before the ceremony) and it was the perfect appetizer.
The only problem with these bar nuts is that once you start eating them, you honestly can’t stop. I have no problem stopping myself from eating an entire can of Pringles, and I know I can only eat one single Lay’s potato chip, but with Union Square Cafe’s nuts, there’s no stopping. In fact, I never make them just for Alex and I to have at home because we both will eat nothing else until they’re all gone. And on Thanksgiving, I’m not allowed to make them because putting them out before dinner would ruin everyone’s appetite. Have I given enough proof that these nuts are amazing and that you need to make them?
As for what nuts to use, the choice is yours. You may include pecans, walnuts, Brazil nuts, peanuts, almonds, cashews or hazelnuts. These are all the nuts that are found in Union Square Cafe’s blend. But could you add pistachios or macadamia nuts? Of course you can! You also get to decide how much of each nut you want in your batch: you can have more almonds and less cashews, you can use only pecans, or you can use every single nut I listed above. Just as long as you use 800 grams (1 3/4 lbs. or 28 oz.) worth of nuts, you’re good to go. I find that the easiest way to measure out the nuts is by using a kitchen scale, especially if you’re using an array of nuts.
It’s important that I note that you need to buy raw and unsalted nuts! We need to toast them ourselves so that the seasoning “paste” we make - consisting of melted butter, brown sugar, chopped fresh rosemary, cayenne pepper, and salt - will adhere to the warm nuts. I made two tiny changes to the seasoning paste which is that I use a bit more butter than what is called for (about 2 tbsp. instead of 1) and I finely chop the fresh rosemary. Over the years, I’ve found that these two modifications make for not only a tastier batch, but allows for the nuts to receive a generous coating of seasoning deliciousness. So that’s why in the recipe below, I have written 1-2 tbsp. of melted butter. I suggest starting with 1 tbsp. and see if it works for you, and if not, remember to add an extra half tablespoon or so the next time you make them! Because there will definitely be a next time.
Make these for your Super Bowl party please! Or any party or get together for that matter. I promise that these nuts will get more compliments than your main dish that took hours to prepare.
P.S. Have leftover fresh rosemary and not sure what to do with it? Make my lemon and rosemary madeleines!
Union Square Cafe’s Bar Nuts
Makes about 5 cups
Recipe from Union Square Cafe via Genius Recipes
1 3/4 lb. (800g, 28oz.) raw and unsalted assorted nuts (peanuts, cashews, Brazil nuts, pecans, walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts)
1-2 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted (see note above)
2 tbsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary
2 tsp. dark brown sugar, packed
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 tsp. kosher salt
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Evenly spread the nuts on a large baking sheet (if all nuts do not fit on one sheet, divide between two and toast at the same time). Toast the nuts for 10 minutes, or until lightly golden brown and fragrant.
Meanwhile, prepare the seasoning. In a large bowl (large enough to fit the nuts), combine the melted butter, fresh rosemary, brown sugar, cayenne pepper and salt. When the nuts are finished, immediately transfer to the bowl with the seasoning and thoroughly mix to coat. Add more salt or cayenne if needed. Enjoy warm, but I think they’re best at room temperature when the coating has settled.