Spiced Walnuts

I’m sure it will surprise no one to learn that I like to make little homemade gifts for the holidays. For the treats and goodies that I give away, I also like to make homemade bags and boxes to put them in. I just think it’s so much more personal, and a lot less expensive, than buying shiny, plastic coated bags.

One of my favorite treats to give away is a batch of sugar walnuts.

They are the perfect amount of sweet and spicy, they’re fast and easy to make, and very convenient to package and gift. Plus, everyone who gets some loves them!

This year, I enlisted the help of our boy to decorate tiny brown gift bags for the walnuts. For the one above, I removed the staple and sticky tag from and inexpensive bow and cut it into strips, then he glued them together as a tree and decorated the tree with a rick rack trunk and puffy paint decorations. I think he did a pretty adorable job.

Over the past few years, I’ve taken to making homemade gift tags too.

Three years ago or so, I bought this great paper punch shaped like a gift tag, so each year, I just pick out some adorable, festive scrapbook paper, and punch away! Last year, I trimmed them all in glitter and puffy paint, but this year I kept things a lot simpler.

Since there’s just the three of us this year and we’re keeping things low-key for Christmas, I chose to punch the tags out and just hand write messages on them.

Now we have bags and tags, but we need something to fill them with!

All you need to make these is walnuts, sugar, milk, cinnamon, salt, and vanilla.

Spread the walnuts on a rimmed baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes to toast them. Allow to cool completely before stirring them into the candy, which we can make while the walnuts cool.

In a small saucepan, combine the sugar, milk, cinnamon, and salt. Whisk over medium high heat until all of the ingredients combine completely, then stop stirring and bring to a boil. Boil the mixture gently until it reaches 240 degrees on a candy thermometer, about 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from heat and carefully stir int he vanilla, avoiding the slight spluttering. Immediately stir in the walnuts, working as quickly as possible to coat them all. Spread the walnuts on a baking sheet lined with a Silpat mat or parchment paper. Use a fork to break apart any big chunks. Be careful, as the nuts will still be quite hot. Allow to cool completely before serving or packaging.

These are always a big hit, and in cute homemade gift bags they’re even better!

I only make these for my family at Christmas time, because we can’t stop eating them! They’re very addicting and they definitely don’t last long around here. Sit these out for your loved ones for the holidays and I promise everyone will be very happy! Enjoy!

Sugared Walnuts
Makes 1 pound
Ingredients

1 lb. shelled, whole walnuts
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup milk
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread the walnuts on a rimmed baking sheet and roast for 10 minutes. Allow to cool completely before stirring into candy.

In a small saucepan, combine the sugar, milk, cinnamon, and salt. Whisk over medium high heat until all of the ingredients combine completely, then stop stirring and bring to a boil. Boil the mixture gently until it reaches 240 degrees on a candy thermometer, about 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from heat and carefully stir int he vanilla, avoiding the slight spluttering. Immediately stir in the walnuts, working as quickly as possible to coat them all. Spread the walnuts on a baking sheet lined with a Silpat mat or parchment paper. Use a fork to break apart any big chunks. Be careful, as the nuts will still be quite hot. Allow to cool completely before serving or packaging.

Recipe by Darla

 

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Comments

  1. y says

    I'm a new reader, and I have to say how totally impressed I am with all of your ideas, directions, and pictures. I think you could write a great cook and craft book!
    You have a great, approachable style, wonderful taste, and interesting ideas. Your work reminds me of Martha Stewart but better because I know I can actually achieve similar results, and you make it look easy.
    I'd buy it, and I used to teach craft classes to K-3rd graders, and decorate cakes, not professionally, that wouldn't end up on cakewrecks.
    Great job!

  2. Katie says

    Hi, I just made these, but think I failed. Don’t have a thermometer to measure but just tried about 10 mins of boiling and its sort of a sloppy mess rather than a candy texture. i used light milk would that have made a difference?

    • says

      Hi Katie, It sounds like you just didn’t boil the mixture quite long enough. As I read your comment, it occurred to me that there is a description of the process that would be helpful if you don’t have a candy thermometer: As the candy boils, it foams up very high, to the top of the pan. The longer it boils, the lower it foams, until it barely foams at all. At this point, the candy should be ready. A test you could try would be to drop a very small amount of the candy into cool water. If the candy hardens up a bit, but retains a string-like shape, then it is ready. I truly appreciate the comment, because your feedback has made it clear to me that I have more information to add to the post. I’m sorry your candy didn’t work out, but I hope it hasn’t discouraged you from giving it another shot! Thank again for your comment.

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