Let’s keep this short and sweet, shall we? Candied nuts are a welcome addition to many salads, adding crunch, sweetness and the richness of the nut itself. And, of course, those nuts are a treat on their own, especially accompanying a cocktail.
Walnuts halves, with their butterfly shape and craggy nooks and crannies can look especially attractive with a glistening glaze. That’s why the other day I selected the best walnut halves from the stash in my refrigerator to garnish the salad I was making. Unfortunately, I didn’t pay enough attention during the toasting process and I burned them. The next batch of walnuts might not have been as attractive, but with due care and attention they tasted so, so much better.
It only takes a few minutes to toast these nuts in a skillet on the stovetop. While I often use maple syrup for glazes, this time I used honey to pick up on the flavour of the vinaigrette that would also accompany the salad. A light grinding of pepper, a pinch or two of salt, and a final addition of turbinado sugar for extra crunch and to catch the light, and these little babies were ready to cool while I worked on the rest of the meal.
And by the way, on those occasions when my sweet tooth is getting out of control, tossing together some candied nuts is a quick way to appease the craving while also benefitting from the nutrients of the nuts. Not exactly healthy food, perhaps, but as sweet snacks go, they’re more than respectable.
© Marlene Cornelis, Urban Cottage Life 2016
It’s worth picking through the bag of nuts to find the most attractive ones when making candied nuts for snacking or for use as a garnish on salads and other dishes. But if all you have are nuts that are a bit tattered, oh well — they’ll still taste delicious! This recipe is for a small, specific-purpose batch, but you could easily increase it if you wish.
- 12 or 13 walnut halves (one for tasting!)
- 1 tsp honey
- pinch or two of Kosher salt
- light grinding of black pepper
- (optional) 3/8 tsp turbinado sugar
Place the nuts flat side down in a dry skillet over medium heat. Shake and toss until they are warmed and you’re beginning to smell them. Keep a close eye on them! If they over-toast they’ll taste bitter and nasty (harsh experience speaking here).
Drizzle the honey over the nuts, and sprinkle on the pepper and salt. Continue to stir and toss the nuts until they are well coated with the honey and it’s just starting to darken. Remove the pan from heat, and transfer the nuts to a plate or a piece of foil on the countertop. If desired, sprinkle the turbinado sugar over each walnut half to add extra crunch and pizzazz. Taste, and if needed, sprinkle on another pinch of salt.
Let cool before using. If storing, lay flat in a container, perhaps placing parchment paper between layers to prevent sticking.