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
- Place sugar in a small pot and moisten with the water. I do this by running a thin stream of water down the inside of the pot while rotating the pot under the stream. This washes down any crystals down the sides. The amount of water is of no consequence because when you boil it to a certain degree (248F in this case) the appropriate amount of water evaporates whether or not you start with 25grams or 75 grams of water. The more water you use, the longer it takes to get to your set point. 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 medium flame and don’t touch it. You don’t need to shake it or stir it. The sugar will eventually dissolve. Bring syrup to a boil. Cook until the syrup reaches 248 degrees Fahrenheit. Use a thermometer to keep track of the temperature. If using a probe thermometer while it clean with a wet dish towel each time you pull it out.
- 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.