Fun with Nuts

One of the advantages of this “retreat” in DC is that I have more time to explore and experiment with recipes and foods in the kitchen.  Last winter I discovered America’s Test Kitchen on PBS and have become a devotee.  They have challenged me to take more risks and try different things I would ordinarily never consider.

Enter the nuts.  In trying to find sweet treats to send to our kids for Christmas, I saw a show about candied nuts.  I was intrigued and quickly decided to add candied nuts to the box of treats familiar to their childhood.  Needless to say, the nuts were a huge hit.

So, I’ve decided to add them again this year – only varying the kinds of nuts I use.  They are simple to make, fun, and the results are amazing.  They can be used to sprinkle over salads, add to granola, use as topping for ice cream or muffins, or to simply enjoy by themselves as a wonderful snack.

How to make them, you ask?

In a heavy pan put 1 and 1/2 cups of water and add 1 cup of sugar; 1/2 cup of brown sugar; 1 tablespoon of cinnamon; 1 teaspoon of unsweetened cocoa powder; and 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg.  Heat the sugar mixture until it boils and then add 3 cups of the nut of your choice.  (I have used almonds, walnuts and pecans – all with wonderful results!)  Turn down the heat a bit and continue cooking the mixture as it boils while stirring continuously to avoid burning.   After about 15 to 20 minutes the mixture will boil down and adhere to the nuts.  Continue stirring until the mixture becomes dry – completely dry – and the nuts are thoroughly coated.  Pour the coated nuts out onto a wax paper lined baking sheet.  Break up any clumps with the back of a spoon and allow them to cool.  Enjoy!

This Advent preparation has left a cinnamony aroma in the apartment and reminds me of the grace that comes when I work in my kitchen to make gifts for others.

What does grace smell like for you?

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