It was so very awesome to be able to see firsthand how farmers grow, harvest, and process the walnuts in those iconic pale yellow packages that we eat, cook and bake with, and of course, to be able to sample it all, too!
Since that trip, I have had walnuts, pecans, and almonds on my mind. Walnuts, because obviously. Pecans, because those are one of my top holiday nuts to bake with and my most-used nut. And almonds, because Diamond Foods actually owns Emerald Nuts, and Emerald so happened to making their cocoa-roasted almonds while we were touring the plant and the aroma was incredible. So suffice to say, I had to make some extraordinary nutty dessert for you guys.
Diamond of CA asked me to prepare a fun edible gift in a jar for the upcoming holidays! With the whirlwind of errands, cooking, eating, traveling, and shopping (not to mention your daily grind) the holidays are more like holidaze with so many things to do and so little time. You’re bound to be stuck in a rut regarding gifts for neighbors, coworkers and teachers, or perhaps you’re assigned to bring something to a party and you’re tired of the same old veggie tray or bottle of wine. Have no fear, friend! I’ve got ya covered 🙂
Not only is this recipe absolutely FABULOUS, but it could not be simpler to make! The nuts are slow-cooked for 3 hours and only require a little stir every 20 minutes. To me, that’s far less laborious than covering yourself head to toe in snow gear, piling in the car, and battling traffic and long lines to find some other gift that may end up regifted anyway!
Plus, this recipe is surprisingly versatile and yields quite a bit, so you can stretch your gift to serve for several different recipients — hostess gifts, a special surprise for the mailman or nanny, and a little something for your hairdresser. That is, if you don’t eat them all yourself. Don’t say I didn’t warn you about their addictive powers!
And of course, using Diamond of California Nuts are positively necessary! Diamond’s nuts are high-quality and all harvested right here in California. They’re positively perfect raw and right outta the bag, but something magical happens once you coat them in a sticky-sweet cinnamon spiced mixture that’s sure to win over anyone who’s lucky to get a jar. Because of this recipe’s versatility, feel free to use whatever nuts you’d like. For this, I chose Diamond of California Shelled Walnut Halves and Shelled Pecan Halves, and Emerald Nuts Vanilla Roasted Almonds for an extra hint of sweetness.
The hardest part? Not saving it all for yourself — and deciding which color ribbon to tie up each jar! 🙂
*recipe adapted from Instructable
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 2 Tbsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp ground nutmeg
- ½ tsp ground ginger
- Pinch salt
- 1 egg white
- 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
- 2 cups Diamond of California Pecan Halves
- 2 cups Diamond of California Shelled Walnuts
- 1-2 cups Emerald Nuts Vanilla Roasted Almonds
- ¼ cup water
- Liberally grease a 4-quart slow cooker with cooking spray and set aside. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the egg white and vanilla extract with a fork until foamy and combined.
- Pour the nuts into the slow cooker liner and toss with the egg white mixture until most or all of the nuts are coated. This mixture is sticky and will allow the coating to adhere to the nuts better. In a medium bowl, stir together the brown sugar, white sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and salt until combined. Pour this mixture evenly over the nuts and toss to coat all of the nuts with the sugar mixture. You may have some extra sugar on the bottom of the liner; that's okay!
- Cover the slow cooker and turn it on LOW heat. Cook for approx. 3 hours, stirring every 20 minutes to continue to cook & coat the nuts with the mixture and to prevent burning. In the last 20 minutes of cooking, pour in the water and toss to coat. The water helps the mixture adhere even better and creates that sticky glaze.
- Once the time is up, line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment or foil. Spread the nuts carefully and evenly over the baking sheet and allow them to cool. They make stick together in clusters, so gently break apart once they're dry and cooled. Store nuts covered in an airtight container, or break into pieces and serve in mason jars as gifts.
Be prepared for your house to smell INCREDIBLE with the wafting aroma of sweet, slow-cooked nuts in this rich, warm and spiced coating. The brown sugar and cinnamon mixture caramelizes onto the nuts, offering a fantastic candied taste and glossy coating, while the nuts maintain their sturdiness and nutty texture, creating a great sweet-and-salty balance. I can’t help but think of other awesome flavor combinations, like by stirring in cocoa roasted almonds or finishing the nuts with a hint of orange zest and a handful of dried cranberries for a fresh and tart twist.
Likewise, whether you gift the nuts pre-cooked or hand them off for the recipients to make at home, these nuts are sure to be a HUGE hit with anyone who receives them!
Have a fantastical day!!
In the interest of full disclosure, I have been working closely with Diamond of California as an occasional contributor to their blog and as a blogger. All opinions expressed are 100% my own and always will be.