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Holiday Week: Winter Treats with California Walnuts

By now you should know just how much I love sweets and desserts – but one thing you should also know is how much I love to give homemade sweets & desserts as gifts during the holidays.

Homemade Edible Holiday Gifting
Baking gifts is not as hard as it sounds if you’re an organized control freak like me during the holidays. Any great gift giver knows it starts with the list. Build a list, highlighting what each person might like to receive, this will help determine who would be an appropriate recipient for a homemade edible present versus something store bought – but to be honest I don’t know a single person who would turn away fudgy chocolate brownies! Next, choose recipes that will suit multiple recipients on your list – I usually aim for 3-4 different types of treats and create a “sampling” type box for everyone. Lastly, create your shopping list, buy, and start baking!

Holiday Gifting Recipes Made Easy with California Walnuts
I was approached by California Walnuts last week and asked to share a holiday recipe using walnuts. Although they provided me with 14 wonderful recipes to choose from (ranging from salad & dips to festive hors d’oeuvres), I of course opted to make the sweets… because I am predictable like that.

Fudgy Walnut Brownies (Gluten-Free)

Recipe courtesy of the California Walnuts

1 cup (250 mL) dates, pitted (about 16)
2 tbsp (30 mL) water
7 oz (210 g) dark chocolate (good quality), chopped
6 tbsp (90 mL) butter, salted
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 tbsp  (30 mL) unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tbsp  (30 mL) quinoa flour
1 cup (250 mL) California walnut pieces, coarsely chopped
2 tbsp (30 mL) icing sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).
2. Line the inside of a 9-inch (23 cm) square pan with foil and set aside.
3. In the food processor, place dates and 2 tbsp (30 mL) of water and blend into a smooth paste. Set aside.
4. In a medium sauce pan over low heat, melt butter and chocolate, stirring until smooth.
5. Remove butter and chocolate from heat and mix in the date paste followed by one egg at a time until fully incorporated. Sift together the cocoa powder and quinoa flour in a small bowl and stir into the chocolate mixture.
6. With a wooden spoon, beat the batter vigorously for at least 1 minute until the batter is no longer grainy.
7. Mix in the walnuts and pour the mixture into prepared baking pan.

Sweet California Walnuts

Recipe courtesy of the California Walnuts


4 cups (1 L) California Walnut halves
4 tbsp (60 mL) pure maple syrup
2 tbsp (30 mL) sesame seeds

1. In medium bowl, combine walnuts and maple syrup; mix until evenly coated. Stir in sesame seeds. Spread on non-stick baking sheet.
2. Bake in 325°F (160°C) oven 20 to 25 minutes, stirring twice, until nuts are lightly browned. Allow to cool on baking sheet. (Nuts will become dry and crunchy as they cool).
3. Store in air-tight container. Makes about 4 cups (1 L).

Although “baking” seems like an obvious way to use walnuts there are plenty other applications and uses for this delicious and nutrient-rich nut:

Will you be baking homemade holiday treats for your loved ones this year?

Disclosure: I was provided with a nice package of walnuts + a grocery gift card from California Walnuts in exchange for this post. I was not compensated in any other way, and all opinions are my own.

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