Out of all the nuts, walnuts have always been one of my least favorite. Okay, my very least favorite. Okay, I actually kind of have an aversion to them, generally. Okay, "aversion" is too strong a word, really. I tend not to really avoid any foods; there are just some foods that I take much, much less pleasure in eating than others.
So you won't find a small pile of raspberry-vinaigrette-doused walnuts left in my plate after eating a salad or anything. I can't make any promises about a can of mixed nuts, though. Something about their bitterness has always turned me off.
Walnuts have never been something I've ever eaten for the mere pleasure of eating them. I devour cashews and chocolate covered walnuts ravenously. Walnuts? No, thank you.
Except, well, my mom. Mothers. They're sneaky.
My mom pays attention to her health. She has managed to look better and better as the years go by. It's bizarre (or, not so bizarre, considering the previous sentence).
She discovered the health benefits of walnuts and decided to start buying them in bulk.
On one of my recent trips home, she offered me some walnuts. She told me she'd candied them herself. I didn't want to take them, but it's really hard to refuse your mom when she's trying to give you something good for you (especially when at least some small part of her is sure that you're malnourished or underfed or a combination thereof and you need to accept her offerings or feel guilty about worrying her further).
Well, this is where the sneaky bit comes in. I reluctantly took the small plastic bag of walnuts home with me. And tried one.
And then another. And another. And another.
They were-- delicious. How, I asked myself, how did she do that?
This is how:
Palm sugar. She'd candied the walnuts in palm sugar she'd brought back with her from a visit to Cambodia.
Don't mind the bling; these photos were taken when she made these for me on the fly on Lunar New Year's eve. It's good luck to wear bling during New Year's.
Aren't her hands pretty? I think they're prettier than mine.
She melted the chopped palm sugar in a big non-stick pan.
Tossed in a bunch of walnuts (which, I guess, were already lightly roasted? Ask Kirkland).
And she turned them over in the palm sugar until they were all lightly coated. I'm not sure whether she added a bit of salt or if palm sugar has a natural saltiness. I was too busy salivating over this fresh batch and anticipating eating them to pay really close attention.
The texture of the coating is completely unlike that of walnuts candied in refined sugar; instead of the typical glossy sheen, the coating is rough, almost dusty. Delicious.
I have no money-shot of the final product because it slipped my mind in the midst of trying very hard to ration my intake of them. I left them in the kitchen and managed to just pop a few in my mouth at a time for a few days.
Then I made the mistake of taking the whole batch with me on a day of gallivanting around Los Angeles and, well, they're gone. Agony.
Mothers. They're sneaky. By "sneaky," I mean clever. They're so damn good at making things delicious.
I can't wait to get a refill. Or, I guess, get some walnuts and make them myself. . . maybe.
I'm still amazed to find myself actually craving walnuts. My world is a bit off-kilter now.
But it's also a bit more delicious.