Candied Walnuts Two Ways

My grandmother made candied walnuts.  Don't ask me why a little old Chinese lady served candied walnuts as an appetizer for every family gathering, but she did.  I recently went looking for a recipe, and burned through several (literally).  Both of these recipes work, but one is oven-based while the other is done in the pan.  The pan method produces a darker, stronger tasting nut, more reminiscent of the ones my grandmother made.

Candied walnuts are great as an appetizer, on salads or as a snack. They also make a great gift. You can also make these with other nuts, like pecans.  Double the recipe and keep a supply on hand.  They keep well in a tightly-lidded jar.

Candied Walnuts (pan method)
Adapted from Simply Recipes
Makes 3 cups

1 cup sugar
3 cups raw walnut halves
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt

Preheat oven to 350°F. Set the oven rack in the middle position.

Arrange walnuts in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake for 5 minutes. Be careful not to burn them. (They are done when you can smell them.)  Remove the nuts from the oven and let cool.

Pour sugar and salt into a large heavy frying pan with a thick bottom. Cook the sugar on medium heat, and start stirring with a wooden spoon as soon as the sugar begins to melt. Stir until the sugar is a medium amber color liquid, about 10 minutes. Turn off the heat.

Add the walnuts to the pan, quickly stirring and coating each piece with the sugar mixture.

Spread the nuts out on a rimmed baking sheet, lined with parchment paper. Use two forks to separate the walnuts from each other, working very quickly. (Note: If things get out of hand and you end up with the largest caramel nut ball ever, just stick the baking sheet back into the warm oven for a minute or two.)

Let cool completely before storing.  These nuts keep well in a tightly-lidded jar.

Candied Walnuts (oven method)
From Seriously Simple by Diane Rossen Worthington
Makes 3 cups

1/4 cup + 2 Tblsp light corn syrup
3 Tblsp sugar
1 tsp salt
3 cups walnut pieces

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  Spray a rimmed-baking sheet with cooking spray.  Place a  second rimmed-baking sheet on a work surface.

In a medium bowl, combine the corn syrup, sugar and salt.  (Spray the spoon or the cup with oil before using.  The syrup will come out more easily.)  Add the nuts and toss to coat well.  Place on the baking sheet in a single layer.

Bake the nuts for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown, stirring every 5 minutes.

Immediately spoon the nuts onto the second baking sheet.  Let cool slightly.  Quickly separate the nuts using two forks and let cool thoroughly. Store in an airtight container.