Yesterday after a fun-filled 4th of July celebration, I came home and sat down to put my feet up and watch the new Cooking channel. I had recorded the Indian Cooking show and thought I’d see what they had prepared. They were featuring curries, which I love and will prepare some day this week (stay tuned!), and for dessert she made Jaggery Walnuts. Knowing that we had jaggery in the pantry and knowing we had some South Georgia pecans in the freezer, I jumped up and rushed to the kitchen to make them!
Jaggery is a traditional unrefined sugar made from cane juice that is used in India and many other countries as a sweetener. It is considered a wholesome sugar because it contains more mineral salts than refined sugars, and is also known to have health benefits for the lungs and throat. Because it’s not refined, it is absorbed by the blood more slowly as well. We buy it at the Indian market close by our home, and it looks like a round block of hard golden sugar.
Though the Indian Cooking show host used walnuts in her recipe, we didn’t have walnuts so I substituted the pecans. After making the first batch as a test, we started adding other flavors – like vanilla and black strap rum. I could see adding other flavors too like orange or cinnamon.
These are so quick and easy to make and they remind me of the sugar coated pecans my grandmother made for the holidays each year. They made the perfect sweet to close a wonderful day spent with family and friends! We named them Panela Pecans because “panela” is another name for jaggery, a fun fact I found on the internet.
- 1/2 cup shaved jaggery (just shave it off the block with a knife to get a loosely packed sugar)
- 2 cups pecans (or walnuts)
- 2 tblsp black strap rum (optional)
- 1 tsp vanilla (optional)
Melt the jaggery in a non-stick saute pan on medium high heat until bubbly. Add the rum and vanilla, then add the nuts and stir to coat the nuts in the sugar.
Stirring constantly, cook the nuts for about 3-5 minutes, and then pour them onto parchment paper to cool. A note about cooking time: within 3 minutes they are good to eat and are similar to a praline, but if you cook them a little longer until the sugar has browned a little more and is shiny, you’ll get more of a toasted flavor. Don’t let the sugar burn however! See the difference in the photo here.
Once cool, enjoy! Try not to eat the whole batch in one sitting! Store in an airtight container.