Monday, December 21, 2009

Last Minute: Going Nuts for the Holidays

Ok, we're getting down to the wire. By now, you should have ordered everything you need online (and much of it should have arrived). Local Los Angeles shopping (or wherever you may reside) can be done up until Thursday the 24th, although I wouldn't recommend it in terms of sanity. Other than that, what can you do?

Well, you could go nuts. Cinnamon candy nuts, that is. My mother used to make them every holiday season, and I finally got the recipe. She described it as a "pain in the ass," but I'm pretty sure that's because she didn't have a candy thermometer, and sat there, staring at the seething sugar mass, dumping tiny droplets into a glass of ice water, anxiously awaiting the medium soft ball stage.

But there's no longer any need to fret over that. You see, if you have a candy thermometer , this recipe is fool proof. And so delicious, you may want to make double. Trust me: I've never made candy before in my life, and it was laughably easy.

The Toad's Mom's Cinnamon Nuts

2 cups assorted nuts (pecans and almonds are good, and easily purchased at Trader Joe's)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup evaporated milk (not sweetened condensed)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon vanilla

Line a cookie sheet or jellyroll pan with wax paper.

Combine everything except the nuts in a very heavy saucepan (I used a medium sized Le Creuset). Bring to boil until the mixture reaches 240 degrees (medium soft ball) on a candy thermometer (keep the thermometer in the mixture the whole time). Once temp is reached, turn off the heat, mix in the nuts, and spread out on the prepared cookie sheet to cool.

Break up into bite sized pieces. Place in individual jars, wrap the tops with ribbon, and give as last minute gifts.

Alternatively, eat alone, out of bowl, while watching The Hangover. Make new batch to give as gifts later.