With a perfect balance of sweet and salty, GiGi’s Nut Crunch Christmas Candy is a recipe worth passing down to the next generation.
Everyone in our family looks forward to the day in December when we make GiGi’s Nut Crunch Christmas Candy. Obviously, I am aware that there is very little this recipe has to offer regarding health since it is loaded with sugar and butter, but once a year, a little treat is good for the soul.
I remember conversing with a doctor friend about the importance of nourishing food for the body. I firmly believe in giving your body what it needs to grow, sustain life, and heal, but sometimes, there are things we eat or do because they nourish the soul. Out of every recipe I have, this one nourishes my soul the most because it reminds me of my grandma.
God gave us the most beautiful Christmas gift in 2017 when my mom and stepdad brought my 90-year-old grandma back to New Jersey to spend Christmas together. My extended family lives on the West Coast, so I have spent over 20 years of Christmas holidays in my married life without them. We had the amazing chance of taking Grandma into New York City on Christmas Day to Saks 5th Avenue and the Rockefeller Christmas Tree. What a beautiful bucket list memory we were able to give her.
On our visit, we had tea parties, went Christmas caroling, painted nails, and made her Nut Crunch Christmas Candy together. I will never forget her sitting at my kitchen table, spreading the melted chocolate and licking her fingers. That is the memory that will forever nourish my soul and the memory I will pass on to my children as they learn to make GiGi’s Nut Crunch Christmas Candy.
- 1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks butter)
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup filtered water
- 1/2 cup whole blanched almonds (I use regular almonds although the blanched are so much prettier with their skins off)
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1/2 cup chopped almonds
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans
- 1/2 cup chocolate chips (I use Ghirardelli 60% semi sweet chocolate chips)
- 1/2 cup mixed chopped pecans and almonds
- Make sure you have all the ingredients ready: nuts chopped, chocolate chips measured, etc.
- Prepare your cookie sheet with either butter or oil. You will be dumping boiling hot candy onto this surface so it will need to withstand high temperatures. DO NOT USE GLASS!
- In a 4-5 qt saucepan, add the first 5 ingredients (sugar, butter, salt, water, and whole almonds). Bring to a boil on medium heat stirring often to prevent burning until your candy thermometer reads 290° F (about 10 minutes). I keep my candy thermometer in the pan while it is heating.
- When it reaches 290° remove from heat and add in the next 3 ingredients (baking soda, chopped almonds and pecans).
- Stir and pour out onto your prepared cookie sheet.
- Immediately sprinkle the chocolate chips out onto the hot candy and spread around evenly as it melts.
- Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup mixed chopped nuts.
- Cool completely before breaking it into bite sized pieces.
Prepare All Your Ingredients
Because you must move fast when making candy, you must prepare all your ingredients and pans. The children will love chopping the nuts and spreading the chocolate once the candy is on the pan.
How Butter and Sugar Magically Turn Into Christmas Candy
Measure the butter, sugar, whole almonds, salt, and water into a 4-5 quart saucepan and insert a candy thermometer. Turn the heat to medium and stir often to prevent burning until the temperature reaches 290° F. This should take around 10 minutes. Immediately turn off the heat and add the baking soda and 1 cup of chopped almonds and pecans. Reserve 1/2 cup of mixed chopped nuts to sprinkle on the melted chocolate for later.
Once the candy reaches 290° F, turn off the heat and pour it out onto a buttered cookie sheet. NOTE: Do not use a glass casserole dish or anything that can’t withstand high heat. You will break the candy with a knife after it cools, and a glass casserole dish will shatter. Ask me how I know. While it is still hot, sprinkle your chocolate chips and spread them with a rubber spatula to melt the chocolate. Then sprinkle with your reserved chopped nuts.
The Importance of Passing Down a Recipe to the Next Generation
Our children need to know that if things are not passed down to the next generation, they disappear for good. The things they value and look forward to are part of the traditions that make them who they are. I love cooking with my children and telling them the stories of each recipe. The stories will live on and on as generations that follow will get to enJOY and even improve upon our recipes.
Something About Cooling and Cracking…
This last part has always been my favorite part. Usually, I prepare the candy at night when it is dark and all the Christmas lights illuminate our home. I love taking the finished nut crunch outside into the cold winter air to cool and solidify the chocolate. Something about setting out the candy outside in the cold night air makes me feel connected to our colonial ancestors. To not be dependent on a refrigerator but instead use the benefit of the season is to be somehow sustainable. This might just be me. I tend to get excited about the littlest details.
When the chocolate has hardened, take a butter knife, break the candy into bite-sized pieces, and store it in a cool area of the house.
Remembering GiGi at Christmas
I pray your family will enJOY this recipe as much as mine—God’s richest blessings on you all and a very Merry Christmas.
In everything you do -eat, play, and, love- may it always be Seasoned with Joy!