A simple and wonderful addition to your holiday snacking or cheese boards, these Brown Sugar and Cayenne Candied Walnuts are beautiful too!
For too many years I only used walnuts in baking because, well, because I don’t know why to be honest. I never loved them; thinking they had an inherent bitterness that bothered me and since I loved pecans I would often just substitute them for walnuts when making something and I never heard a rallying cry from anyone supporting ‘that other nut’ so it was no big deal.
Thankfully I had an epiphany one day several years ago and am very grateful; otherwise I would have never made these Brown Sugar, Rosemary and Cayenne Candied Red Walnuts. And that would have been bad; very bad.
What happened? Simple. Toasting happened. I remember making a salad that called for toasted walnuts; I happened to have some in my pantry and I proceeded according to the recipe on hand. And I loved them. I mean LOVED them. The difference is no less for me now than eating a raw potato versus a baked potato. It’s that rawness I objected to; a quick period of time in the oven metamorphosed those nuts in a way I had not expected.
I had never even thought of them as ‘raw’ before but I heard from a lot of people once I made that discovery that knew the secret (WHY hadn’t they told ME?) and since that day; they’ve surpassed pecans in my ‘what nuts I love’ hierarchy and will probably never go back as long as they get cooked first.
When I was asked by the folks at Sanguinetti if I would like to create a recipe using their Red Walnuts my interest was certainly piqued but I was unprepared for just how red their product is. A gorgeous; almost burgundy red that I wanted to try and make sure wasn’t hidden inside a cake or some muffins.
I thought of doing a salad but then it hit me how much I love candied walnuts and how I like to start archiving some recipes now for holiday gift giving. I make all of my holiday gifts so I need to start compiling ideas early!
Not only are they absolutely beautiful but they also have a smoother, creamier taste than English walnuts. Tasted side by side, English walnuts are slightly more astringent, whereas red walnuts are milder but deliver a full walnut taste.
My urge to toast them held firm but the bitterness that used to turn me off is just not as evident in this product. Red walnuts are created by grafting Persian red-skinned and English walnuts and the nut is red only on the outside with creamy walnut flesh inside.
Sanguinetti Family Farms are fourth generation farmers in Linden, CA. They first harvested and sold red walnuts in 2009, selling them out of a small store they own on Highway 4. Today red walnuts are available on the retail market from late spring through the winter in 7-ounce packages. They have the same nutrition profile and heart-healthy qualities of regular walnuts but they sure are prettier!
I know what I’m going to fill some jars with this season; they were simply the perfect accompaniment to a Pomegranate cocktail I’m publishing tomorrow to celebrate 3 years of my Friday Cocktail series. I’m hosting a Progressive Eats cocktail party with appetizers, cocktails and desserts and a fabulous giveaway and you’re all invited!