All the way from kindergarten till I was ready to go to college, I went to a catholic school. Skirts five inches below the knee and hair tightly tied into two side ponytails with a ribbon matching the school uniform, catholic school. A huge Christmas celebration in the courtyard of the convent and the school chapel twinkling of red, green and yellow Christmas lights for the whole month of December, catholic school. So having grown in a country where Christians were in minority, although never considered so, I have been celebrating Christmas since I was wise enough to know what Diwali is.
Although that was not why right after burning the last box of fireworks on Diwali I would cross my fingers, hold the breath and eagerly wait for December. Santa visited us in our classrooms with a bag full of gifts, which unfortunately were a sad book and a pack of color pencils, every year. Neither was it due to the beautiful sound of Christmas carols students would practice exactly during our geography class. But it was mainly because of the sweet and insanely aromatic fruit cake distributed to everyone at school a day before Christmas. With a light tinge of orange color, it was like a pound cake although not as airy and light with specks of red cherries, orange peaches and green (something!) here and there. There was a thick slice for every student with a tiny bag of toasted sweet nuts. Now that I look back, I understand that those little Christmas treats were not exactly a culinary genius but for my ten year old self that was the highlight of my December.
A few days back while listening to the butterfly’s story of how her PE teacher, coach George, turns into a Santa on Christmas and also thinking of a Christmas gift for friends this year, I went back to that thick slice of fruit cake and the bag of sweet nuts. So I thought lets toast some sweet pecans. Now, since I’m not a ten year old anymore, I have the freedom of boozing it all up. So I popped open a bottle of Abhishek’s most treasured bourbon and poured it on my pecans. I still felt that the punch from that single barrel Kentucky beauty was not strong enough, so I threw in some cayenne too which beautifully brought in both a kick and smokiness.
So this is it! This is going to be filled in boxes, wrapped, packed and sealed to be carried to friends with a bottle of wine or his favorite bourbon probably. What’s going into your Christmas package this year?
250 gm pecan halves
2 1/2 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup coconut palm sugar (brown sugar works equally fine)
2 tablespoon good quality bourbon
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Preheat oven to 300 deg. F.
Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat.
Stir in palm sugar (brown sugar). Mix well.
Add bourbon. Mix. Cook for 1 minute.
As it starts to bubble, stir in pecans.
Spread on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Cook in the oven for 20 minutes stirring every 5 minutes.
Pull out of the oven. Let it cool slightly.
In a bowl, mix sugar and cayenne pepper. Sprinkle over pecans. Toss to coat.