In this week's By Thistle By Thimble story, “Riches or Wishes,” Renzelman the Great is an old magician who travels with a horse drawn circus from town to town. He is not a very good magician, but he does have one remarkable trick up his sleeve—he can change a little stone into a tiny dancing man and then back again. What his audience doesn’t know is that it's not a trick at all.
With acrobatics, juggling, stunts, and clowns, the circus can be both exciting and mystifying. Like Renzelman, there are always a few things that feel imported from another time and place, or else like they're not quite what they seem to be.
Of course, if you're going to the circus, you simply must have some peanuts.
Nope, not the gooey, orange “circus peanut” candies—the real thing. Long before the candy, vendors at traveling circuses sold “hot roasted peanuts” to nosh on as you watched the show. The recipe below is a nod to those original “circus peanuts.”
I've started with shell-on peanuts, because — particularly if you're trying to have a genuine, at-home circus day — it can be an experience to sit for 10 or 15 minutes and shell them. If you're more pressed for time, don't worry, I've included the measurement for pre-shelled peanuts, too.
As with most recipes for spiced nuts, you can alter the amounts of particular spices to your liking. The one thing I would recommend is that you don't skip the hot sauce, even if you think you don't need it. In this case, the hot sauce doesn't really add heat, but instead acts a balance to the sweetness of the brown sugar. The resulting nuts are sweet, but with an air of mystery befitting the big top!
Sweet and Spicy “Circus” Peanuts
1 pound shell-on peanuts (or about ¾ pound shelled peanuts)
¼ cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
1 egg white
1 teaspoon sriracha (or your favorite hot sauce)
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Shell the peanuts, if necessary, and set aside. In a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar and all of the dry spices. Sift them together with a fork to combine.
In a larger bowl, whisk the egg white until it's frothy. Gently toss the nuts in with the egg white, then add the spice mixture, plus the sriracha.
Spread the peanuts out into a single layer on a parchment covered bake sheet. Roast them for 30 minutes, opening the oven door and stirring them once about halfway through. As always when cooking with nuts, pay careful attention towards the end to be sure they don't scorch.
Once the peanuts are roasted up and smelling delicious, you can either enjoy them hot or (after allowing them to cool) store them in an airtight container at room temperature.
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About the Author
The Sparkle Kitchen Series is created by Meryl Carver-Allmond.
Meryl lives in a hundred-year-old house near the prairie with her sweet husband, two preschoolers, one puppy, one gecko, and about ten chickens. While she's been writing since she could pick up a pen, in recent years she's discovered the joy of photography, too. She feels lucky to be able to combine those skills, along with a third passion — showing people that cooking for themselves can be healthy and fun — in her Sparkle Kitchen posts.