Tuesday, May 7, 2013

How to Make Wet Walnuts: Easy Maple-Walnut Caramel Topping for Ice Cream, Yogurt, Oatmeal, + More by Cleo Coyle

I'm making homemade
Wet Walnuts today!

My favorite breakfast lately has been a parfait of oatmeal, Greek yogurt, sliced banana, walnuts, and maple syrup. This combo is not only delicious, it's highly nutritious and recommended as a "probiotic-prebiotic" elixir. 

And what is a P&P elixir? Well... 

If you've seen a yogurt commercial lately, than you know that probiotics are the healthy bacteria that live in your gut. They're also found in fermented foods like good quality yogurts with live and active cultures.

Prebiotics are nondigestible carbohydrates, and they can be found in bananas, oatmeal, maple syrup, honey, and high-fiber foods. 

When these two "P" foods (pro- and prebiotics) are paired in a single meal, they contribute to healthy digestion and immune function. They also have a "synergistic relationship, because prebiotics feed the probiotics," as registered dietitian Nancy Clark puts it. You can read more on this subject at the Mayo Clinic website, by clicking here.

Whether or not you join me in my P&P parfait, I hope you'll enjoy today's recipe. In my kitchen, this amazing topping is a marriage of convenience between the walnuts and the maple syrup that I use in my P&P parfait. I keep my Wet Walnuts in small jars in the fridge, where I can quickly dip in a spoon and drizzle them with joy. 

(Truth) my husband (and partner in crime-writing) has no interest in my P&P parfaits, but he does absolutely love these Wet Walnuts spooned over vanilla Häagen-Dazs. So no matter how you serve them, I sincerely hope you will...

Eat with joy!
~ Cleo

Cleo Coyle’s 
Homemade Wet Walnuts 

(Maple-Walnut Caramel Topping
for Ice Cream, Yogurt, Oatmeal, and More...) 

 To download this recipe in a PDF document that you can print, save, or share, click here

Cleo Coyle, who is nuts
about nuts, is author of The
Coffeehouse Mysteries
Natural maple syrup is transformed during the cooking process of this recipe, and the resulting sauce tastes like caramel--but a caramel that's made without butter, cream, or refined white sugar. To learn more about maple syrup's nutritional and health benefits compared to white sugar, read my recent blog post on maple syrup (and tips on understanding its various grades) by clicking here.

TIP: Use the freshest walnuts you can find and you'll be happy with the result. I buy whole nuts, freshly shelled, from a local green grocer, and chop them myself. Sometimes I toast the nuts, sometimes not--so make that decision based on your own taste. According to LiveStrong.com, roasting nuts does not significantly damage their nutritional value. Read more here.

Adapted from the Vermont Maple Festival Cookbook (After experimenting with the original recipe, I altered the ingredients and amount of ingredients, and wrote up my own directions and variations, but the cookbook did inspire me!) 

Makes about 1-1/2 cups 


1 cup roughly chopped walnuts (*see my note below on toasting)

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 tablespoon hot tap water

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt (or 1/8 teaspoon table salt)

1-1/2 cup pure maple syrup (**see my tips below on choosing)   

1 teaspoon vanilla (***or see my other flavor options) 


Step 1 - Prep Ingredients: In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch, hot tap water, and salt. Use a fork or small whisk and work the mixture until you see no lumps. Set aside. If you’d like to use toasted nuts in this recipe, then prepare the nuts now. (My directions on toasting nuts are at the end of this recipe). 

Step 2 - Cook the sauce: During this step, the syrup will bubble up quite a bit, so be sure to use a large, heavy saucepan that allows enough room for the bubbling (see my photo below). Pour the syrup into the pan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally to prevent burning. When the syrup bubbles up, turn the heat down, and simmer for one full minute while stirring continually. After a minute, stir in the cornstarch mixture that you prepared in the first step. Turn up the heat and bring to a boil again. Boil and stir for a full minute. Turn off the heat and take the pan off the hot burner.

Step 3 - Remove from heat and finish: For best results, make sure the sauce is well off the boil before you stir in the vanilla or rum or liqueurs. (You don’t want to boil off the flavoring.) Finally, stir in the chopped nuts. The syrup will thicken as it cools but should remain pourable right from the refrigerator. If chilled sauce becomes hard, simply re-heat in a pan or microwave and stir in a few teaspoons of water before returning to the storage container and the fridge.

Drizzle over ice cream, yogurt, oatmeal, pound cake, puddings, pancakes, waffles, even fruit pies (especially apple pie). The sauce can be stored in an air tight container or glass jar and refrigerated for up to 2 weeks. 


*TOASTING NUTS: Spread the chopped walnuts on a single layer of a baking sheet and heat for 10 minutes in an oven preheated to 350 F. Stir once about halfway through to prevent burning. Proceed with the recipe as written.

*PURE MAPLE SYRUP has one ingredient on the bottle--maple syrup. Do not use not "pancake syrup" or "maple-flavored table syrup" for this recipe; those products are artificial imitations of real maple syrup, which is made by boiling down maple tree sap. Look for Grade A, Medium or Dark Amber for this recipe. To learn more about maple grades, read my recent blog post on this subject by clicking here.

***FLAVOR OPTIONS: You can replace the vanilla with other options, including 1 tablespoon of dark rum; or 1 tablespoon of the following: Frangelico (hazelnut liqueur); Amaretto; or (if you can find it) Nocino (green walnut liqueur).

F o o d i e

P h o t o s

Eat with joy!
~ Cleo Coyle

New York Times bestselling author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries 

Yes, this is me, Cleo (aka Alice). 
Friend me on facebook here.
Follow me on twitter here
Learn about my books here.

To view the
Coffeehouse Mystery
book trailer, click here.

The Coffeehouse Mysteries are bestselling
works of amateur sleuth fiction set in a landmark
Greenwich Village coffeehouse, and each of the
12 titles includes the added bonus of recipes. 
To learn more, click here. 

The Ghost and
Mrs. McClure

Book #1 of 

The Haunted Bookshop
, which Cleo writes
under the name
Alice Kimberly

To learn more, click here


  1. Cleo, first, thank you for the shout-out! so excited that TOPPED CHEF is finally here:)

    And the wet walnuts over ice cream look unbelievable. A definite must-try!

  2. You always come up with such delicious recipes! Thanks so much for sharing :)

  3. I can't wait to try this! So many possibilities...

  4. Sing with me: "Heaven, I'm in heaven"!
    This sounds divine and your breakfast parfait is also a winner.
    On the tasty money, as always.
    Many thanks
    Hm, I just happen to have a pint of vanilla ice cream in the freezer and we're getting a new roof worked on as we speak, ...this sounds like a perfect celebration.

  5. Cleo, you have such a way of bringing together the most divine ingredients in the universe and finding ways to even make them nutritious...you are my hero!

  6. Hmm, I believe I'll have to buy some vanilla ice cream tomorrow. So I can have ice cream with the walnuts for breakfast -- right? Would go great with a cup of coffee!


  7. I have one last bottle of last season's Michigan maple syrup from up in the Amish contry near Clare (home of Cops and Doughnuts!). I'm going to get some walnuts in the morning and make a batch...my dairy days are over but I can just imagine how good it will be on my oatmeal!!

    Thanks as always for a fun way to use kitchen staples here at Chez Phillipe!!