Caramelized Maple Walnuts are my latest addiction around here. Just pure maple syrup, walnuts and a few minutes of time in the skillet, and you’ve got delicious candied walnuts for a myriad of uses.
I’m already planning ahead for the holidays, and these Caramelized Maple Walnuts are the perfect fall treat. They make great nibbles at Thanksgiving and are perfect for mailing in holiday packages and tucking into Christmas stockings.
So I did something new today. Something I’ve never ever done before.
Do you like trying new things? I do. Even more than new things, I enjoy unusual people. You know what I mean when I say unusual, right? Not weird or strange.
I mean eclectic, in the very best sense of the word. Characters. I really enjoy spending time with characters.
I’m lucky to have a lot of eclectic friends up and down the east coast. We were born and raised in the north, but then my husband and I lived in South Carolina for many years. We moved back to New England in 2004 with two little boys in tow.
Cutest. Maple syrup jug. Ever. (3.4 ounce capacity)
By now you think I’m ancient with one foot in the grave. And trust me, there are days I feel that way! But the truth is, Jon and I celebrated our 25th anniversary this past summer! So woo hoo! (Confirming we’re one step closer to ancient every day…giggle.)
Back to my eclectic friends. There’s something refreshing to about spending time with people who are very different than I am. I’ve always loved it, and get such a kick out of characters. And I happen to be acquainted with more than a few!
My next-door neighbor growing up, Mr. Peck, was a character. And his wife (Mrs. Peck) was also in that category. Their names were, drumroll…. Lester and Esther. And both were very sweet, older friends who kindly spent lots of time with me as a little girl.
I’ve told you about them before. He, a white-haired retired engineer who built a little empire on his hundred acres, including a very contemporary three story home on a hilltop overlooking the large pond he designed.
A genuine root cellar was built into the hill where they stored the root vegetables they grew in their gargantuan garden. He also built an authentic wooden covered bridge on one end of the pond.
The pond had an island with a little gazebo in the middle, and was a nice destination to row to for picnic lunches. There was also a fancy shmancy zip-line (complete with metal tractor seat) that crossed over one edge of the pond. Mr. Peck loved his big boy toys. Understatement.
Look closely and you’ll see the covered bridge nestled back in the trees.
Their property also included a sugar shack with a gigantic snapping turtle shell hanging from the ceiling. It was at least three feet across. And there was a large wooden tree house way high up, where I played “house” often. These are just a few of the many wonders that amazed me as a child about my very eclectic neighbors the Pecks.
And how could I forget Mrs. Peck? True to her Cherokee roots, her beautiful snow white hair was plaited in two long braids. A silver Cherokee warrior pendant hung around her neck. She taught me to knit when I was only six, and how to make God’s eyes with straws and yarn. (Remember those?)
She intrigued me, hanging upside down on her anti-gravity machine. (An anomaly in the 70’s.) And each morning at 5:30 a.m., with the mist still rising off the pond, she’d skinny-dip out to the island and back several times for exercise.
On occasion she invited me along. I never did accept. As previously mentioned, I love people who are different than me. Nope, you won’t catch me skinny dipping out to any island at 5:30 a.m. in the morning.
Not even with Mrs. Peck. ‘Cuz that ain’t my style.
Where were we??? YES! I did something new today! (No, not skinny dipping.) I made these fabulous Caramelized Maple Walnuts.
I was thinking of the Pecks when I made them, because I used to help Mr. Peck make the maple syrup in their sugar shack. (I was telling you about that last week.)
How to make Caramelized Maple Walnuts:
So it takes about five minutes to make these gorgeous caramelized nuts. Just put the walnuts in a skillet with pure maple syrup. Cook over medium heat for five minutes or so. The water in the syrup begins to evaporate and the syrup will caramelize.
Oh. My. Goodness.
The smell alone is divine. But that sweet, maply nutty crunch? Even better.
When that ooey gooey caramel-y syrup starts sticking to the walnuts, remove from the nuts from the heat and place on parchment paper to dry. They take just a few minutes to harden.
And then you’ve got the most delicious maple candied nuts ever and not an ounce of refined sugar to boot. Mother Nature at her finest. No guilt.
So what to do with these lovely candied nuts? That would be the wrong question my friend. The question is, what NOT to do?
So many uses. Think trail mix. Oatmeal. Salads. Cakes. Ice cream topping. Parfaits. Pie. Granola. Stocking stuffers. Just to name a few.
The sky’s the limit, and I’ll be sharing more ideas using these delicious Caramelized Maple Walnuts in the days to come. Stay tuned!
Caramelized Maple Walnuts Recipe
- 1 cup walnuts
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- Place walnuts in medium skillet.
- Pour maple syrup on top and gently stir to coat.
- Cook over medium heat until bubbling, stirring every few minutes.
- Syrup will begin to caramelize after about five minutes or so. Watch closely.
- When syrup is sticking to walnuts and there's not so much liquid left in the skillet, remove from heat.
- Quickly (and carefully!) place separately on parchment paper to harden.
- Once dry and hardened, store in airtight container until needed.
You may also like: Sugared Pecans