Lauren’s Vanilla Walnuts

The first time that I tested these walnuts, I made a half batch, which my family pretty much devoured. My daughter, Lauren, had earlier begged me to make chocolate chip cookies for her school’s Valentine’s Day party, but after demolishing these she switched her order to a full batch of nuts. I have no doubt that it was a first for fourth graders.

I was so excited when I saw vanilla powder, not eve knowing what I would do with it. If you can’t find it, simply double the amount of vanilla extract, although the vanilla flavor won’t be as powerful.

Makes 4 cups.

4 cups raw walnut halves
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
6 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon vanilla powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Place the walnuts and melted butter in a large bowl and toss until the nuts are well coated. Sprinkle the sugar and vanilla extract over the nuts and toss again until evenly coated.

3. Transfer the walnuts to the prepared sheet and arrange in a single layer. Set aside for 10 minutes.

4. Place the vanilla powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and pepper in a small bowl, mix well, and set aside.

5. Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake until the nuts are lightly browned, stirring a few times, about 30 minutes.

6. Remove from the oven and immediately loosen the nuts with a metal spatula. While hot, sprinkle the nuts with the spice mix and stir well but gently. Set aside to cool before serving.

If you’re sipping: Lauren likes these best with ginger ale. No ice.

From Party Nuts! 50 Recipes for Spicy, Sweet, Savory, and Simply Sensational Nuts That Will Be the Hit of Any Gathering (The Harvard Common Press, 2002)