These nuts are glazed with maple syrup and seasoned lightly with cinnamon and cayenne. (Photo by Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post)

These nuts are glazed with maple syrup and seasoned lightly with cinnamon and cayenne. (Photo by Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post)

These nuts bring the heat and the sweet to holiday dishes

You might want to make several batches because they also make a lovely hostess gift.

These scrumptious nuts, glazed with maple syrup and seasoned lightly with warming hints of cinnamon and cayenne, are practically effortless to make. They have the seemingly magic power of elevating any number of dishes you might be serving this Thanksgiving and throughout the holiday season.

For starters (pun intended), pile them onto your cheese platter along with fresh and dried fruits, which will upgrade it instantly, both flavorwise and healthwise. Or sprinkle them on salad and atop creamy squash soup for a compelling, crunchy contrast. Even for the main course they can lend pizazz as a garnish for mashed sweet potatoes, cooked green beans and roasted Brussels sprouts. And, of course, at meal’s end they can be chopped and tumbled onto roasted fruit or scattered over pumpkin pie.

I recommend making a double batch so you have some left over, because they are nice for everyday eating, too — unbeatable in oatmeal, on yogurt and simply nibbled on their own. While you are at it, you might want to make several batches because, packed in a glass jar and tied with a ribbon, they make a lovely holiday hostess gift.

Maple spiced glazed nuts

These nuts — you can use walnuts or pecans — seemingly have the power to elevate any number of dishes you might be serving this holiday season. You might want to make several batches because they also make a lovely hostess gift.

Make ahead: The nuts can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

3 tablespoons maple syrup

¼ teaspoon salt

⅛ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

⅛ teaspoon ground cinnamon

1½ cups unsalted walnut or pecan halves

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

Stir together the maple syrup, salt, cayenne pepper and cinnamon in a medium bowl until well blended, then stir in the nuts so they are evenly coated. Spread the nuts on the baking sheet in a single layer, drizzling over them anything that’s left in the bowl.

Roast (middle rack) for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring them every 2 to 3 minutes, until browned, shiny and fragrant. (If you don’t stir them, they will burn.) Let cool completely; they will crisp up as they cool.

Makes 6 to 8 servings. Nutrition per serving (using pecans): 150 calories, 2 grams protein, 8 grams carbohydrates, 13 grams fat, 1 gram saturated fat, 75 milligrams sodium, 2 grams dietary fiber, 6 grams sugar, no cholesterol.

Ellie Krieger is a registered dietitian, nutritionist and cookbook author. She blogs and offers a weekly newsletter at www.elliekrieger.com.

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