Regarding nuts there are two camps (well three if you count those who are deathly allergic to them)–one group just loves nuts and all things nutty and one group not so much. I guess that I fall somewhere in the middle. I do like nuts as solo fliers. I make them often when we are entertaining to munch on with our cocktails, I like them in salads or sprinkled on my veggies, but I am not a huge fan of nuts in sweet treats like quick breads, cookies and especially fudge. That being said, I am crazy for sugared nuts! I love honey roasted peanuts to be sure, by my hands-down favorite are sugared spiced walnuts or pecans. I love them on my caramel apples and in my oatmeal, in my winter salads and just right out of the bowl. And nuts are good for me, right? Practically a health food, I think!
In Cape Cod there is a woman who makes these amazing sugared walnuts called Wicked Walnuts. They are outrageously delicious and addictive and the recipe is obviously a closely guarded secret. Even though I do have a slight walnut sensitivity (they make my mouth peel), that is a small price to pay for eating them! So since I am not currently on the Cape, a few years ago, I successfully recreated the recipe myself….and it’s close enough to tide me over until our next visit.
We give often them to neighbors and friends in lieu of holiday cookies. And as a bonus, these make a lovely, last minute hostess gift for that holiday party you’ve been invited to this weekend. I can’t think of a more beautiful, festive (and delicious) gift than these sugared, spiced walnuts, especially if you present them in a pretty bowl.
- 1 pound walnut pieces and halves
- 1 egg white
- ½ cup sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¾ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ½ cup sweetened dried cranberries
- ¼ cup sugar
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- pinch cayenne
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
- Beat the egg white in a large bowl until it's quite foamy. Toss walnuts with egg white so they are thoroughly coated.
- Place sugar, salt, and spices into a large zip top bag. Remove walnuts from egg white with a slotted spoon, letting any excess egg drip out. Place nuts in the sugar bag and shake vigorously to coat.
- Pour out onto greased cookie sheet and separate nuts. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until dry and toasted.
- Mix sugar topping in a large bowl. Gently break apart walnuts with a fork or spatula. Place in the bowl with the sugar and toss to coat. Place back on the cookie sheet to cool. When cool, toss with the cranberries and seal in air-tight containers.