When they're good, honey roasted peanuts are a magnificent symphony of sweet and savory flavors with nutty and floral notes, and a crunch and munchability that's second to none. When they're bad, it's like eating a mouthful of dried peas dipped in sugar and salt. Blech.
Why are they bad so often? For starters, the name "honey roasted" can be a misnomer. Let's start with the "roasted" part. To roast something would suggest that you're cooking it, and if the word "honey" is before it, you'd think the honey is somehow part of this cooking process. This is not always true, hence so many bad nuts out there.
After reviewing a few of the peanut patents from the U.S. Patent and Trademark office, it's quite evident that very few of the honey roasted peanuts we're buying in supermarkets are actually raw peanuts roasted in honey. More likely the case, the peanuts are first dry-roasted then sprayed or tumbled with some blend of sugar and salt, a bit of honey, and a lot of flavor enhancers.
Some honey roasted peanuts are dry-roasted then "candied" by glazing the peanuts in a hot mixture of honey, sugar, and more flavor enhancers. This is probably the closest thing to "honey roasting" we'll find in stores, but results really vary by manufacturer and oftentimes many preservatives are added. "Honey roasted" has really just become a term we use to describe anything with honey in it.
So here's a recipe for making honey roasted peanuts, or perhaps "honey glazed" is more accurate of a term. The results are more rustic-looking than the perfectly coated peanuts you'd buy at the store.
What are some of your favorite "honey roasted" snacks?
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About the author: Lee Zalben was a PB&J-loving kid that grew up to be the founder and president of Peanut Butter & Co., which began as a Greenwich Village sandwich shop serving nothing but peanut butter sandwiches and expanded to include the now-famous line of all natural flavored peanut butter. Lee is a graduate of Vassar College and enjoys traveling the world in search of interesting foods made with peanuts, tree nuts, and seeds. When he's not working, eating, flying or writing, he enjoys scuba diving and training elephants.