Chinese Candied Walnuts 琥珀核桃
By Ellen L. Published: 2017-02-10
I've been wanting to make these special treats for a long time, since last year actually. I had everything prepared to make it last Chinese New Year but never got around to it...sigh. I love eating these nuts, it's absolutely my favorite way to eat walnuts! These Chinese Candied Walnuts, or 琥珀核桃, are just gorgeous: lovely caramel coated walnuts deep fried to a crunchy deep golden brown sheen. It tastes like nothing else, the lick of sweetness of the almost burnt caramel in pleasing contrast to the slightly bitter nuttiness of the walnut. So yummilicious! This Chinese New Year we made a whole bunch of these delicious traditional symbols of abundance and wealth and presented them, the lovely darling things, to our New Year's guest as part of the selection in our Tray of Togetherness 攢盒.
Walnuts are good for you, they're what's known as heart healthy. We try to eat all different kinds of nuts all the time, cuz there's just so much different kinds of goodness in these manna from the trees and it really does help to give you a well rounded kind of food intake. While walnuts are a bit bitter by themselves, they are great baked in cookies and what not. Here we boil them briefly to reduce the bitterness, toss in caramel and deep fry to spectacular, addictive results.
Psst...you can get a great deal on walnuts if you buy in bulk like we did!
Urggh...back to my old nemesis, caramelizing sugar. But, no fear, I have my nifty reliable new food thermometer! With this trusty friend I am getting better at not burning my sugar!
Now to watch the sugar as it slowly transforms. Wait for it, wait for it... Ah, there it is, that beautiful golden amber color! For this recipe we want the temperature to go up to the 'hard ball' stage of sugar transformation, a stage where the caramelized sugar forms a hard stickyness that can hold its shape as it cools.
Next give the caramel syrup a quick toss with the walnuts until all the nuts are completely coated with the caramelized syrup. Do note that I screwed up and put the sesame seeds in too early. They should be sprinkled on after the deep drying and not before. Arrgh...where is my head these days?!
I have read that you can also just mix the sugar in with your boiled walnuts without caramelizing. But I caramelized the sugar and thought the taste just really perfectly lovely and I'm going to stick with that method. But if you like you can skip the caramelizing and just toss the sugar with hot walnuts until completely melted before deep frying.
There you are then, my friends, a simple way to transform humble walnuts into a show stopper kinda snack. I promise that you and you friends and family will not be able to stop eating these awesomely addictive Chinese Candied Walnuts! Happy Lunar New Year!
Chinese Candied Walnuts Recipe 琥珀核桃
Prep time: Cook time:
1 lb shelled walnuts, 4 cups, 450g1/4 cup water
1 cup sugar, 200g
1 cup sugar, 200g
1 1/2 tbsp maltose, golden syrup or corn syrup
3 tbsp black sesame seeds, roasted
Heat a small pot of water. When boiling, add walnuts and cook at simmer for 1 minute. Strain out walnuts and put aside. Pour out water from pot, then add in sugar, 1/4 cup fresh water and maltose. Stir over medium heat till sugar is dissolved, then don't stir anymore, just give it a swirl once in a while. Wait as the sugar slowly transforms itself to a golden amber color, 250°F (121°C).
In the meanwhile in a separate wok or small pot, start heating up approx. 2" of oil. Prepare a baking sheet lined with paper towels to receive and drain fried walnuts.
Once the sugar is a golden amber or reaches 250°F, remove pan from heat and add in the walnuts. Toss with the caramelized sugar until walnuts completely covered. By this time the oil should be hot. Carefully drop in single layer of walnuts and deep fry over medium heat until golden brown. Use slotted spoon to remove and place onto paper towels, spreading walnuts out and immediately sprinkling with sesame seeds. Let cool before munching. Or munch when warm, that's good too! Store in an airtight container for a week or two should be okay. Enjoy!
Tip: When using metal canisters for storage, adding an extra layer of ceramic wrap before closing the lid helps to keep everything extra airtight.
More Delicious Chinese New Year Snacks at The Hong Kong Cookery:
Chinese Water Chestnut Cake 馬蹄糕