Wet nuts, an Ice Cream Parlor Staple
While the title of this dish gives homage to a Saturday Night Live holiday skit from the 90’s, the dish itself is a homemade ice cream staple. Back when people actually used to make foods from scratch, this was a must-have at any 5 & 10, local ice cream parlor or drug store soda counter.
When made properly the walnuts infuse the syrup with a slightly salty roasted walnut flavor. If you think the title of this dish is a set up for a joke, it is. So please follow suit and insert your own while telling your guests.
This recipe calls for dry roasting which imparts a more concentrated flavor and extra sweetness to the nuts. The natural sugars will be drawn out and deposited on the surface of the nuts. Alternatively, you can break the walnuts down/chop first if you prefer, but since there will be four times the walnut meat in the pan, you will need to be even more careful about burning. You will have to shift them around in the pan constantly to keep them from scorching. In any event, you will know that the walnuts are cooking when you smell a fragrant odor of walnuts wafting up from the pan. Small wisps of smoke will start forming.
You can also roast the walnuts on a sheet pan in an oven if you keep a very close eye on them. I don’t recommend this method unless you have more experience. The idea behind this process is to enhance the natural flavor by coaxing out the natural oil to the surface. It requires constant attention.
A Note On Walnuts
I use walnuts in other foods beyond dessert since walnuts are typically rich in fiber, proteins, healthy fats and are slow to metabolize. Walnuts are a low carbohydrate option and contain plant-based omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Long chain omega-3 fatty acids, DHA and EPA can be synthesized from ALA. Research has shown that diets rich in omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and may benefit those with type 2 diabetes, especially those with elevated triglycerides. A great way to improve your nutrition, while reducing your carbohydrate intake is to add walnuts to your diet. In other recipes look for them in salads, stuffings, pestos and even homemade roasted walnut butter.
- 1 ⁄2 cup light corn syrup
- 1 ⁄2 cup maple syrup
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- pinch of kosher salt
- 1 cup lightly toasted walnuts, roughly chopped
- Measure out 1 cup of walnuts (or more) and put into a plastic 1 gallon storage bag.
- With a meat tenderizer, rolling pin or heavy can, crush the walnuts into small pieces.
- In a pan heated over medium high heat, add the walnuts and cook briefly until fragrant and golden brown. Remove from heat and reserve.
- In a separate pot, add the corn syrup, maple syrup, vanilla extract and pinch of kosher salt. Bring to a boil.
- Add the roasted walnuts to the syrup mixture and let seep over medium high heat for about a minute to infuse the sauce.