December Holidays

These Dishes and Drinks Taste Like December

9 tries at getting into a holiday spirit

Melissa McCart
Published in
4 min readDec 4, 2020
Egg nog by the fire.
Photo: kajakiki/Getty Images

We don’t blame you if you feel like skipping this holiday season. But with more pandemic-related challenges in front of us, perhaps we can turn to holiday dishes and drinks to lift our spirits, especially since we’re stuck primarily at home. Here are a few suggestions.

1. Make some sweet and spicy snacks.

Spiced nuts are more satisfying than you’d think, especially when you make them yourself. I like this strange flavor recipe, but the ones below are a bit more moderate, yet still match the savory-sweet juxtaposition.

Caramelized Spiced Nuts

Photo: Aya Brackett

Makes: 4 to 6 servings. Time: About 20 minutes

2 tablespoons good-quality vegetable oil
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons garam masala
½ teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups (about 1 pound) unsalted shelled nuts

Heat the oven to 450°F. Grease a baking sheet with the oil. Put a large skillet over high heat and add 2 cups water and the sugar. Bring to a boil and stir in the garam masala, cayenne, salt, and nuts. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring frequently, until the liquid is reduced to a syrup, 5 to 10 minutes.

Turn the heat to low. Remove the nuts with a slotted spoon, letting the excess syrup drain off a bit, and spread the nuts on the baking sheet. Be sure to turn off the burner when you’ve finished.

Roast the nuts for 10 minutes, tossing once or twice with a spatula. Remove from the oven and let cool — the sugar coating will be very hot, so resist sampling for a few minutes! The sugar coating will harden as the nuts cool. Serve or store in an airtight container at room temperature for 2 or 3 days.



Melissa McCart

Editor of Heated with Mark Bittman on Medium. Dog mom. Pho fan. Send me your pitches: