Sugar coated candied peanuts (or caramelized peanuts) are a popular snack food in many countries. It's really no wonder! They're crunchy, sweet, and very satisfying, especially when they're freshly made.
This is one of the best snacks you will find in Morocco and a specialty of many street vendors. There's no need to travel, though. You'll be pleased to know that caramelized peanuts are fairly easy to make at home. The only secret to success is to be patient and work over a low heat to avoid burning the sugar as it caramelizes.
- 2 cups (about 250 grams or 8 ounces) peanuts (raw with skin)
- 1 cup sugar (granulated)
- 1/3 cup water
- Optional: 1–2 pinches salt (coarse)
- Optional: splash orange flower water (or rose water)
- Line a large baking sheet or pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Set aside.
- In a heavy-bottomed skillet, combine the peanuts, sugar, and water. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens into a syrup.
- Continue cooking and stirring for about 10 minutes, or until the liquids evaporate and a sandy-textured sugar mixture coats the peanuts.
- Lower the heat a bit and continue stirring as the excess sugar in the pan begins to melt. This will take several minutes. Once the syrup begins to form, it will change in color from clear to golden to amber. Stir constantly, and be careful that the heat is not so high as to burn or darken the syrup too much.
- When the syrup is a light to medium amber color and the sugary coating on the peanuts has glazed, remove the skillet from the heat.
- Sprinkle the salt (and orange flower water, if using) over the peanuts and stir.
- Turn the peanuts out onto your prepared pan and quickly spread them in a single layer. Allow them to cool and harden before serving.
- Be sure the caramelized peanuts have cooled completely before storing in an airtight container.
Caramelized Peanuts in Morocco
In Morocco, caramelized peanuts are sold as a snack food by street vendors and small shops which also offer roasted hummus, nuts, sunflower seeds, and other treats. In Ramadan, a vendor who sells candied peanuts near my home after night prayers makes them on the spot from his cart. He likes to add a little orange flower water or rose water for a unique touch.
Snacks such as these are often purchased in very small quantities in Morocco. The handful of nuts is carried home, sometimes still warm, in cones or packets quickly fashioned from scraps of paper.
Sometimes, the paper is torn from discarded school notebooks or workbooks. It's a perfectly efficient packaging for the peanuts and a great way to recycle paper. On more than one occasion we've challenged our kids to some of the exercises found on those papers.