It was my literary friend and mentor,
Put the nuts in a heatproof bowl. Cover with boiling water, then soak for 30 minutes. Drain, pat dry, then spread evenly on a large jelly-roll pan or baking pan lined with a triple thickness of paper towels. If you are doing a double or triple recipe, arrange the nuts on two pans.
Heat a wok or heavy skillet over moderate heat until hot. Add the oil, swirl to coat, then add the nuts. Stir gently with a wooden spoon or wooden spatula until they are evenly glossed with oil and feel warm to the touch. Lower the heat immediately if the nuts begin to scorch.
Sprinkle the salt over the nuts, stir gently to mix, then slowly sprinkle in the sugar, a tablespoon at a time, until you have a sweetness to suit you. The taste should be lively and sweet, with a hint of salt. Stir constantly while adding the sugar, and break off any caramelized bits that cling to the spoon, stirring them back into the nuts when you are done. The whole process will take about 3–4 minutes, and the salt and sugar will melt and adhere to the nuts.
Serve the nuts hot or cool, either as an hors d’oeuvre or as a pleasantly sweet diversion during a meal, piled in a bowl with the prettiest pieces on top.
Cooled nuts may be bottled airtight and stored in a cool place for up to 2 weeks.
© 1982 Barbara Tropp estate. All rights reserved.