I’m totally nuts for nuts

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Now, I have professed my love of the mightly nut on this blog before, and anyone who is a long-time reader may have picked up on my sheer adoration of the walnut. It is, in my opinion, one of the most marvellous nuts out there – with its soft, meaty flesh, fragrant oil and mild flavour, it is great for eating on its own or for use in any variety of dishes, sweet or savoury (though, me being me, my penchant is for sweet!)

In fact, only early this year I had gone completely ga-ga for a honey & walnut caramel recipe that had appeared in the March edition of one of my favourite food magazines, the Australian Gourmet Traveller. The pairing of walnut and honey was a beautiful marriage that made for an extremely moreish caramel that resulted in my mother letting off more than a few colourful adjectives every time I made them as she found them completely irresistible.

So when I saw a recipe for honey & espresso caramels circling the food blog circuit, like a moth to a flame I found myself drawn to sweet, sweet, calorie-laden fire…

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The source of the latest caramel recipe that was circling around turned out to be Heidi from 101 Cookbooks, and upon seeing her delicious photos, I immediately bookmarked the recipe as one for the ‘To make IMMEDIATELY’ list (sad to say but I operate two lists at a time – one is of things that must be made ASAP, the other of interesting recipes to bear in mind for the future). However, when I read the post later, my jaw dropped at her inclusion of walnuts. Walnuts? Honey? Caramel? I’m sorry, but I had to drop whatever I was doing and race to the kitchen to make them, stat!

So I printed out the recipe and carefully read through the ingredients and instructions so that I would have a vague idea of what I was doing in the kitchen before rushing around and trying to do 5 things at once (and quickly!), but for some reason I had a slight feeling of deja vu. I mean, I knew I’d made honey & walnut caramels before, but still…

Pulling out my now worn and tattered copy of AGT, I had a look at the recipe and discovered that it was almost exactly the same, the main difference being a substitution of the citrus zest for espresso powder. Well! I’m always up for giving a new recipe a try, and let me say that I am SUPER glad that I did! The espresso powder gives these caramels a beautiful depth missing from the citrus version, and it also helps to lessen the sweetness of the honey – though whether the latter is a good thing I’m not sure, as this *does* mean you can have more than one. Or two. Or three…

You get my point.

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Walnut, Honey & Espresso Caramels
(Adapted from Heidi)
(Non-espresso, citrusy variety can be seen here)

Ingredients
360 grams (1 cup) honey
250mL (1 cup) heavy cream
550-600g (2.5 – 3 cups) toasted walnuts, roughly chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp fresh espresso powder

1. Place the toasted, chopped nuts into a bowl and set aside. Line a 20cm x 30cm dish with nonstick baking paper, fold corners so it doesn’t pop out.

2. Heat honey, cream, espresso powder & salt in a heavy-bottomed saucepan with high sides (this mixture is prone to lots of foaming!) over medium heat and bring to the boil. Once boiling, reduce heat and cook whilst continuously stirring for 20 minutes or till mixture reaches 125 degrees C (firm ball stage).

3. Pour walnuts into the caramel and quickly stir well to combine, then pour into the lined dish. Lightly rub the back of a spatula/large metal spoon with oil and use it to firmly press the mixture into the corners and level it down. Store in the fridge till it has firmed up and set.

4. Lightly rub a sharp kitchen knife with oil, then carefully slice the block of caramel into bite size pieces (such as those pictured above). Take a roll of non-stick baking paper and cut into little squares that are big enough to comfortably wrap around each of the caramels, then wrap them all up and store in a cool, dry place to be enjoyed when you wish!

[tags]walnuts, candy, honey, caramel, recipe, cooking, sweets[/tags]

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