With fall beginning to wind down, and the cold weather of winter just on the horizon, I am struggling to decide which season I want it to be. This happens every year and I think it is a bit of a case of ‘you want what you can’t have’. If there’s snow on the ground, I wish it was leaves. And if there are leaves, I pray for snow. I completely put the blame on Minnesota for all of this.
When it comes down to it, I am definitely a four seasons in a year kind of girl, no matter how much I love the year round warm weather you get when living in the south.
But in all honesty, it is a bit more difficult for me this year. Not because of the sunny weather in North Carolina, but because of the daily texts my family is sending me and the pictures of Minnesota covered in a beautiful blanket of snow. Like I said, you want what you can’t have.
Since the weather is right at the turning point, hopefully, I decided to try out making a recipe that is good for both fall time as well as the winter season. I always think of these two seasons as having completely different flavor pallates, so it was interesting to try and find a way to combine them both into one delicious recipe that did not favor any one specific taste.
When deciding what flavors I wanted to include in this recipe, a few immediately stuck out to me. Pumpkin seeds and pecans for fall. Walnuts and cherries for winter. Each of these I heavily use in their respective seasons and so I thought what better way is there to combine these basic ingredients than in a trail mix.
However, because it is becoming colder and colder outside I thought it would be fun to step it up a notch and roast the entire trail mix to give it a completely different flavor than what we are usually snacking on around the house.
I will admit that I was partially using this recipe to practice my nut roasting skills because of some recipes that are just around the corner in time for Blogmas. But on the other hand, you would be amazed at how difficult it is to figure out the correct temperature and time to that it takes to roast both nuts and dried fruit.
Very different consistencies. Very different densities. Very different roasting temperatures and times.
But after a couple of attempts, and almost setting my kitchen on fire, I managed to figure it out. Surprisingly enough, roasting cherries actually brought out the tartness more, and you all know I am a big fan of tart things. Then there are the nuts and seeds that smelled absolutely amazing once finished. And top all of that with maple syrup and brown sugar, I practically had to fight off my family before I was able to take any pictures.
The smell coming from my oven was honestly just one of those smells that make you want to curl up in a big blanket and relax all day with a good book.
That being said, Fair Warning: Do not walk away from your oven, because the moment this mix is done, IT IS DONE! If any of the ingredients begin to burn or overcook, the entire mixture doesn’t work because there is always that underlying taste. And Once you are able to smell the burn, it is too late.
The distinct smell and taste of a burnt walnut will forever be seared into my brain and the lining of my oven. Once you have mastered the skill of making this recipe, you can either eat this as a snack on its own or you can top a salad to add an amazing sweet and savory crunch to it.