We can all agree that caramelized sugar makes everything taste 100% better, right? Case in point – popcorn. When eaten plain, it’s like chewing on salty Styrofoam. Pour some molten sugar over it, however, and you suddenly have a bowl of crunchy, sweet crack.
Bacon? Same deal. Pretty tasty in general, but swoon-inducingly delicious and addictive when covered in sticky, caramelized sugar/syrup (and then sprinkled on top of cupcakes).
You get the idea.
Why is that candied nuts only pop up around the holidays? As much as I love them, you’d think I’d be eating them constantly, but for some reason I only crave them this time of year. And I’m generally too lazy to actually make them myself (or go out and buy them, if we’re being honest), so unless someone gifts me a nice bag of candied nuts (*hint*hint*, friends) I’m doomed to suffer through my cravings until the holidays pass and my mind/stomach move on to the next thing.
Does that happen to anyone else? No? Nevermind then…
Lucky for me (and my cravings), my friend Sarah posted a fabulous candied walnut recipe on her blog a few weeks ago, and it looked both super easy and super quick. Four ingredients and less than 15 minutes of prep/cook time? That’s my favorite kind of recipe!
Because Sarah is a kitchen/blogging goddess, she actually made her nuts to go with a luscious, no-bake caramel cheesecake mousse. Me, I mostly just wanted to eat sugary nuts. But then I kept reading Sarah’s blog post and drooling over her fabulous pictures and started feeling bad about myself as a blogger. So I decided that I should do more than just eat sugary nuts. I should make something yummy with said sugary nuts.
Hello, candied walnut fudge. Rich, chocolate-y fudge topped with chopped walnuts glistening with the most perfect caramelized sugar bits. Mmmm….
But we’ll get into that more later – I’ll post that recipe sometime in the next few days, I promise.
(In case you’re wondering, the fudge is delicious.)
OK, back to these candied walnuts.
The original recipe was created by Sarah in homage to the candied nuts her grandma used to always make around the holidays. Except, her grandma’s version involved making caramel on the stove, and was apparently sort of finicky/easy to mess up.
Sarah’s recipe is neither of those things. Like I said before, it takes only 4 super simple ingredients. Throw it all together, spread it out onto a baking sheet, and 15 minutes later you’re uncontrollably popping the crunchiest, most delicious walnut candy/crack (Sarah’s words) into your mouth.
For my nuts, I doubled Sarah’s recipe and tossed in a little brown sugar and ground cinnamon to give it some kick and a little deeper flavor. Cinnamon is kind of a known holiday flavor, so it seemed appropriate. And, I think the additional sugar/spice really added a nice extra bit of something to the nuts, which turned out to be perfectly caramelized, not too sweet/sticky, and basically impossible to resist. The perfect holiday snack!
It’s a good thing I had to use most of them in my fudge, because I would have definitely ended up just eating the whole batch by the fistful in one sitting…
- 1 cup chopped walnuts
- 4 tsp granulated sugar
- 4 tsp brown sugar
- 4 tsp light corn syrup
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and set aside
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugars, corn syrup, salt and cinnamon until mixture is thick and uniform.
- Add chopped walnuts and stir to coat each piece with your sugar/spice mixture.
- Spoon the coated walnuts onto your lined baking sheet and spread them out in an even layer. Try to break up clumps and separate the nuts as well as you can.
- Bake for 4 minutes, then use a rubber spatula to stir up the nuts, breaking up any clumps.
- Stick nuts back in the oven for another 4 minutes, then stir one more time
- Bake candied nuts for 1 minute longer, or until the nuts turn a deep golden caramel color (but are not burned!).
- Remove your sheet of nuts from the oven and let everything cool on the baking sheet. Remaining clumps can be broken up when the nuts are just out of the oven. They will get sticky/crispy as they cool.
- Enjoy immediately, or spoon into glass jars for holiday gifting!
Note #2: Nuts should be stored in an airtight container (for up to 2 weeks).
(Slightly adapted from Snixy Kitchen’s recipe)