A snack they're sure to go nutty over

Spiced peanuts, easy to make, are perfect with drinks or as a substitute for cheeses.

These spiced peanuts are a reminder of why nuts are the quintessential snack for serving with drinks: They're salty and addictive, with hints of sweetness and spice.

Called Prohibition Peanuts, these nuts are the perfect match for the well-made martinis and Manhattans at Temperance Hall bar-restaurant in Washington. Turns out, the nuts are just as easy to make as they are difficult to resist. At home, they're right for a football-game nosh, a high-protein snack or an alternative to the ubiquitous cheese platter.

Doug Singer, the chef who developed them, divulged the recipes and a few tricks, such as toasting the dry spices in a warm pan to bring out their flavors before tossing them on the nuts. He says, though, that time-pressed home cooks can skip that step. I tried it both ways and found toasting made the nuts more pungent, but the nuts were still pretty good minus the extra effort.

Singer warned against using Planters ("they're overly processed"). And after trying that brand and higher-quality peanuts sold in bulk from a natural-foods store, I agree. Singer also suggests subbing in, say, curry, five-spice powder or jerk seasoning to create an exotic twist. Or try swapping the peanuts for any other roasted nuts, such as almonds or cashews. In other words, go nuts.

Prohibition Peanuts

Makes 31/4 cups

For the spice mix:

1/2 cup kosher salt

3 tablespoons sugar

11/2 teaspoons each: ground cinnamon, ground cumin

11/2 tablespoons ground

cayenne pepper

For the peanuts:

1 tablespoon peanut oil

1 pound unsalted, dry-roasted peanuts

1. Combine the salt and sugar in a medium bowl.

2. Combine the cinnamon, cumin and cayenne pepper in a small skillet over low heat and toast for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring to toast evenly, until the mixture is fragrant.

3. Transfer the toasted spices to the salt-sugar bowl and mix well; let stand for 1 hour at room temperature before using (to allow the flavors to meld).

4. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over low heat for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the peanuts and stir to coat evenly.

5. Remove from the heat and add 2 tablespoons of the spice mix, tossing until the peanuts are well coated.

6. When the peanuts have cooled completely, store in an airtight container at room temperature until ready to serve. To serve the peanuts warm, microwave uncovered for 10 to 15 seconds.

-Adapted from chef Doug Singer,

of Temperance Hall

Note: This recipe makes more spice mix than you will need; store extra in an airtight container for up to 3 months. The spiced peanuts can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for several weeks.

Per serving: (based on 1/4 cup): 225 calories, 8 grams protein, 10 grams carbohydrates, 18 grams fat, no cholesterol, 3 grams saturated fat, 3,563 milligrams sodium, 3 grams dietary fiber.