Caramelized nuts are a staple, in my opinion. They can be used in pastry applications and also in salads. They’re easy to make either with a dry caramelization method or a syrup. I love the ease of just throwing a bunch of sugar in a pan and caramelizing it but for the nuts, I’ve had more success with using the method below. For some reason, I seem to get a smoother coating over the nuts by first creating a syrup. The ones in the picture I did with the dry sugar method. As you can see they’re a bit gloppy although still delicious.
- 150 grams of room temperature walnut halves
- 70g (1/3 cup) superfine sugar
- 3 tablespoons water
- Place sugar in a small pot and moisten with the water. You need a pot that is big enough so that you can comfortably stir the walnuts. I say this with my burnt finger in a glass of ice water because I used a pan that was too small and touched either a bit or the side of the pan while I was wrestling with the nuts. For this quantity of walnuts, I’d use a 5 cup sauce pan. In order to get a thermometer reading without touching the bottom of the pan, I tip the pan so that the liquid accumulates in one area, when I take a reading. Be sure to wipe the thermometer probe in a damp dish towel to remove the syrup every time you take a reading otherwise you risk crystallizing the whole pot of syrup. Then, it’s deep enough to get a reading without touching the bottom of the pan.
- Place pot on a low flame and swirl the pan by the handle until the sugar is completely dissolved and liquid is clear. Bring syrup to a boil. Dip a heat proof pastry brush in cold water and wash any sugar crystals off the sides of the pot. Cook until the syrup reaches 248 degrees Farenheit.
- Pour in all the walnuts at once and stir with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula to coat nuts with the syrup. The syrup will turn white and crystallize on the surface of the nuts. Keep stirring until the crystals melt and turn a light brown.
- Pour the nuts out on parchment paper or a silicone mat, in a thin layer.
- Try and separate the pieces after a few minutes.