Jen and I have been making Christmas nuts for eight (!) years now. It all started back in 2002 when we wanted to give Christmas presents but were low on cash. Jen’s mom had made these when she (Jen) was a kid, but being that the recipe involves very hot sugary goodness, no kids were allowed to help. So we decided to get together one Friday after work and make cookies and Christmas nuts. Jen called her mom for the recipe and the only thing she had handy to write on was her large sketch book.
The first few drips and smudges were accidental, but we make a point of adding some decoration to the recipe every year. First we made the cookies, then we started on the nuts. Since this was to be the majority of our gift giving that year, we made a LOT of nuts. Since it’s a candy recipe you are not allowed to change the amount in any way…no halfing or doubling, and the pot has to be cleaned out between each round. So there are always a lot of rounds when we make these; I think we did twelve this year, maybe a few more. The whole nut process is about a seven hour project. We learned after that first year not to make anything else in the same day; we were up until after 2 am since we made cookies first. The progress of events has evolved into a fairly standardized routine…Jen locks the animals (cats Pouncer and Shadow, dog Charlie) in their respective rooms because fur + hot sugar = bad, I get take-out lunch from Greek Corner Cafe (vegetarian plate and gyro sandwich), eat lunch (cause it’s dangerous to play with hot sugar on an empty stomach and we’d sample more of the nuts than we already do), make umpteen rounds of sugar-spice nuts, watch movie and bag nuts, go home and collapse smelling of sugar and spice and everything nice. The crazy thing about these delicious nuts is that despite the fact that we’re making them all day, we never get tired of eating them. Ever.
It takes about one pass through the recipe before my body remembers how to do everything, then the muscle memory kicks in and the hours just zoom by as we chat and make nuts.
A few more pictures in the Photo Gallery.