Ever since I discovered the rosemary-scented Union Square Bar Nut recipe back in the 1990s, it’s been our family’s signature nibble. Occasionally we’ll buy a container of roasted salted peanuts, pistachios, or Marcona almonds, but when we sit down for a glass of wine or cocktail, there’s likely an accompanying bowl of Union Square Bar Nuts.
I’ve tried changing the recipe, subbing in chili powder, five-spice powder—fresh thyme even. They’re all fine, but we always returned to the original rosemary flavoring.
A few weeks ago, Sharon’s husband, Anthony, and I were in the kitchen together, prepping for Sharon’s 30th birthday party. It was Latin-themed party with a vibrant taco bar and kick-ass chipotle-grapefruit margaritas. Our go-to Mediterranean nuts didn’t exactly clash with this menu, but Anthony and I both acknowledged we could do better.
We got to work. The fat, salt, and sugar in the original recipe weren’t negotiable. For that base flavor that keeps you reaching into the bowl, we needed them all. Plus the butter-sugar combo acts as edible glue, helping the other flavorings adhere to the nuts. For this party we subbed in pimenton (smoked paprika) and cumin for the rosemary and swapped out chipotle powder for the cayenne, which contributes heat and flavor. Finally! A spice mix that rivaled rosemary.
Last week we were out of nuts, and so on my Costco run I picked up the familiar 2 ½ pound container of mixed roasted nuts. A garden full of fresh rosemary, I could have flavored a hundred pounds. Instead, I reached into the pantry for the pimenton, cumin and chipotle powder.
- 2½ pounds mixed premium roasted salted nuts (we buy ours at Costco)
- 4 teaspoons butter
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 4 teaspoons pimenton (smoked paprika)
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons chipotle powder
- 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
- Adjust oven rack to center position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Spread nuts on a 12- by 18- rimmed baking sheet and back until fragrant and very hot, 15 to 17 minutes.
- Meanwhile, microwave butter until melted and warm, stir in sugar, pimenton, cumin chipotle powder, and salt.
- Pour hot nuts into a large bowl and immediately add spice mixture. Stir with a rubber spatula until nuts are evenly and well coated. Return nuts to baking sheet to cool and dry. (Can be stored in an airtight container up to 1 month)
These are almost better than the original. I must admit, I stole a few off the baking sheet while they were cooling the other day. They are TRULY irresistible. Now, let’s make me a Mexihattan we’ll really be set!
Can you share the Rosemary recipe, too?!?
Pam Anderson says
The Union Square Cafe Bar Nut recipe has run on site, and as you can see I’ve linked to it in the post. Thank you!
Bet @ Bet On Dinner says
Oooh. Putting those mixed nuts on my Costco list NOW! :o)
These would be a perfect snack right now!
YUM. I always like to have nuts on hand, they are the perfect snack!
Amy Sheridan says
I package the Union Square bar nuts with a companion microbrew from our local Dogfish Head brewery for Christmas gifts. I may be changing it up this year!
S Lee says
I have problems getting the butter/spice mix to coat the nuts. It wants to clump up and no matter him much I mix it together, there are still clumps of spices all through the nuts. Do you have any advice?
Pam Anderson says
I wish I could help you, but I’ve never had that clumping problem. Perhaps microwave the spice mix to soften the butter a bit just before tossing it with the nuts?