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May 112010
 

Nuts play an important role in the creation of delicious sweet treats – from the walnuts that add extra ‘ummph’ to chocolate chip cookies to brownies with hidden pecans. From Macadamia Nut Cookies to Almond Paste Cake, there are thousands of dessert recipes that incorporate nuts. When you’re looking for ideas on how to make your own nutty desserts, consider the following suggestions:

Pecans

Many of us already know that the sweet gooeyness of pecan pie is a staple dessert during the holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas. Sometimes pecans are overlooked for their versatility in dessert making. However, the nut has found its way into a multitude of creative dessert recipes, especially in Southern baking. A couple of recipes include homemade caramel pecan ice cream, praline cheesecake, coconut pecan frosting, and pecan shortbread cookies. When looking to spice up a regular pecan pie recipe, try experimenting with chocolate and bourbon whiskey.

Walnuts

Walnuts can elevate the taste of cookies and brownies, but they also create delicious dessert combinations when paired with fruit. For example, you will find plenty of recipes that incorporate baked apples and walnuts. Some approaches may include dried fruits (like cranberries), while others may insert unsweetened shredded coconut. Nutmeg and cinnamon are popular spices added to the mix. When hot, serve baked apples with vanilla ice cream. In the morning, a cold baked apple makes a tasty breakfast when topped with vanilla yogurt.

Almonds

When creating desserts with almonds, you will find almond paste a delightful ingredient. For quicker results, you can purchase your paste from a store, while the more ambitious baker may prefer to create their own at home. Ground almonds and sugar are the two most significant ingredients in almond paste. A typical recipe may contain salt, almond extract, confectioner’s sugar, cooking oil, heavy cream, blanched almonds, and egg whites.

When baking, use almond paste to fill pastries (such as almond croissants) or add to homemade chocolate recipes. Some people also use the paste as a substitute for marzipan. In China, almond paste is used to create ‘sweetheart cakes,’ which also contain winter melon.

Hazelnuts

Hazelnuts make a flavorful filling for wafer cookies and enhance the taste of many dessert coffee recipes. To explore an uncommon hazelnut dessert, consider making a pudding out of the nuts. Start by mincing ½ pound of hazelnuts until they are the consistency of a powder. Heat 1 cup of cream until it reaches the point just before boiling. Add a bit of vanilla extract to flavor. Allow the cream to cool. Beat 8 ounces of unsalted butter until the mixture become pale and creamy. Stir in the hazelnuts, 8 ounces of powdered sugar, and 1 cup of cream. Line a mold with ladyfingers and add the hazelnut pudding. Chill well.

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