During the holidays it is always nice to have sweet treats on hand to bring to Christmas parties as hostess gifts. One good option for hostess gifts are candied walnuts. The walnuts can be made in advance and stored in an airtight container until you need to use them.
To make the walnuts, you first toast the nuts in an oven until they become slightly browned and fragrant. This should not take more than ten minutes. Allow them to cool slightly before you begin making the candy syrup.
To make the candy syrup you need to heat the milk, sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a saucepan. Cook and stir the mixture in the pot until it reaches soft-ball stage. Soft-ball stage is recognized at 235°F. I suggest using a candy thermometer to ensure that the correct temperature is reached.
Quickly stir in the toasted walnuts into the sugar syrup. Then, pour the nuts onto a piece of parchment paper or spilt mat. Separate the clusters by using a fork. Use caution and avoid bringing the hot syrup and nuts into contact with your skin. It is extremely hot and you could hurt yourself.
Once the nuts have cooled, store them in an airtight container such as tupperware or a plastic ziplock bag. You can even place them in a glass jar secured tightly with the lid.
Some ideas for containers to gift the candied walnuts in are a decorated glass jar, cellophane bags, or a holiday themed bowl from the dollar store. A mason jar with a nice ribbon is also an option.
If you plan to use a glass jar, such as a leftover jam jar, create a personalized label that included the title of the product. You can add stickers, ribbons, or tags to adorn the jar. By repurposing leftover containers you can cut down on waste.
If you choose to gift your candied walnuts in a cellophane bag, close the bag with a twist tie or piece of ribbon tied into a bow. You can attach a tag to the twist tie or ribbon explain who the gift is from and what is inside. The Dollar Store always has inexpensive packaging materials and often, carry themed bags during holidays.
Candying walnuts is a simple task that does not take much skill. With the use of a candy thermometer, you can ensure that the syrup meets the correct temperature of 235°F.
Turn your California grown walnuts into a sweet treat with a simple method for candying nuts.
Recipe developed by Elisabeth Watkins
1 pound walnut halves
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350°F. Spread nuts in a single layer on a baking sheet. Toast for 8 to 10 minutes or until the nuts start to turn brown and smell fragrant.
Mix sugar, cinnamon, salt, and milk in saucepan. Cook for 8 minutes in medium-high heat or until the temperature reaches soft-ball stage. Remove from the heat and stir in vanilla extract immediately. Add walnuts to sugar syrup; stir to coat. Spoon nuts onto waxed paper and immediately separate nuts with a fork. Cool and store in an airtight container.