Who here loves the crunchy, nutty taste of candied walnuts in restaurant salads and specialty bulk bins? Who here hates not having constant access to the aforementioned goodies?
In five minutes, you can become the best salad maker of anyone you know and end a lifetime of paying exorbitant fees for tiny packages of candied nuts. ($6 for 1/2 cup of walnuts? No thanks, Trader Joe’s.)
These maple glazed walnuts are lightly toasted and coated in a thin layer of maple syrup that is perfectly sweet with a hint of salt.
To make the walnuts, set a small traditional finish pan over medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of pure maple syrup. Avoid using pancake syrup because it contains other compounds and flavorings that interfere with the viscosity and boiling point of the syrup, and may yield undesirable results. Let the pan heat up until the maple syrup begins to bubble vigorously from the center of the pan.
Then, add about 1 cup of walnuts (halves are the best for this recipe) and a generous pinch of either kosher or sea salt.
From this point, there are two methods that can be used to finish the walnuts. The first one is to keep stirring the walnuts over medium heat until they smell toasted and stick to the spoon, and the maple syrup has turned a shade darker and begun to caramelize. This takes 2-3 minutes. At this point, remove the walnuts from the heat and let them cool on a plate. These walnuts are glossy and still a bit sticky, and are perfect for creating a border along the edges of a frosted cake or placing on top of cupcakes and custards.
The second method is to heat the pan in the same manner, but once the walnuts have been added and stirred , turn the heat down to low and continue stirring until the walnuts are dry and no longer stick to the spoon. The sugar in the maple syrup has crystallized and looks almost rough and opaque on the outside. This takes a bit longer, about 5-6 minutes. As in the previous method, remove the walnuts from the heat and spread them onto a plate to cool. My favorite way to serve these is to toss them into a salad with Romaine lettuce, crisp apple slices, feta cheese, and a lemon vinaigrette for a restaurant-worthy first course. These are also perfect for parties; set them in bowls alongside a pungent blue cheese or a ripe brie and some baguette slices. Other times, I coarsely chops these walnuts and stir them into muffin batter with some cinnamon and nutmeg.
Now, if you’re looking for variety, these walnuts take well to a multitude of spices. Just add 1/2 teaspoon of a complementary spice to the maple syrup when it is first heating to let the flavor compounds bloom into the syrup. Curry powder is excellent with blue cheese, and either cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice gives an unmistakable essence of fall. If you’re feeling really daring, add instant espresso powder for a rich flavor.
The walnuts keep very well at room temperature for a few weeks, making perfect hostess gifts, especially around the holidays.
I hope you love these walnuts just as much as my family and I do.
Maple Candied Walnuts
Makes 1 cup
1 cup walnut halves (Pecan halves can be substituted if you’re so inclined)
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 pinch sea salt
1. Heat the maple syrup in a skillet over medium-high heat until boiling.
2. Lower the heat to medium low and add the walnuts and the sea salt, stirring until the walnuts are well coated with the maple syrup.
3. Cook over medium low heat for 2-3 minutes for a lightly glazed walnut, or 5 minutes for a more crystallized crunchy walnut. Remove from the pan when done and place on a plate to cool. The walnuts will keep well in an airtight container for a few weeks.