Saturday, December 18, 2010

Candied Christmas Walnuts

Today my good friend Karen and I spent a snowy afternoon making batches of candied walnuts! She invited me over as her "walnut elf" to help her with all the gifts she was making. Here's what we did...for you to learn from, and for us to remember the learnings for next year :)

*1 pound walnut halves
*1 cup white sugar
*2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
*1/4 teaspoon salt
* 6 tablespoons milk (which is 1/3 of a cup...we used Almond Milk for those with dairy issues).
*1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Notes: We did 10-1lb batches. Each batch filled TWO ziplock sandwich bags, so 10 lbs really gives you 20 "gift-size" portions. Do NOT double the recipe, it is finnicky enough as it is.

1. Preheat oven to 350F (175C). Spread nuts in a single layer over a baking sheet. Roast for approximately 8-10 minutes, or until the nuts start to turn brown and the smell of roasted nuts fills the kitchen.

Notes: With the worry of burning, we "underroasted", which meant great success of no ruined batches, but we probably don't have a full roasted flavour in the same way. I'm good with this as I am prone to burning, yo. Also, we took the pans out at the 4 minute mark, mixed them, and put them back in the oven to ensure evenness of roasting).

2. Stir together sugar, cinnamon, salt, and milk in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat for 8 minutes, or until the mixture reaches the soft-ball stage of 236F (113C). Remove from heat, and stir in vanilla immediately...

Notes: Forget that stir in vanilla immediately stuff! It lowered the temperature and damaged the texture (turned to powder before sticking to the walnuts). Add the vanilla along with the rest of the ingredients in the beginning.

We also noticed a larger saucepan was better so that we could work more quickly with getting the sugar mixture distributed onto the walnuts.
Oh yeah, and when the oven was on, the mixture reached softball temp quicker (more like 4 minutes!)

3. Add walnuts to sugar syrup, and stir to coat well. Spoon nuts onto waxed paper, and immediately separate nuts with a fork. Cool, and store in airtight containers.

5. Do all the dishes!! :)

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