What You Need:
- 1 pound whole walnuts (or 2 cups shelled)
- Nutcracker (if using whole walnuts)
- Baking sheet
- Toaster oven
- Hot pads
- Pancake turner
- 2 small bowls
- Chopsticks or tongs
For sweet walnuts:
- 1 teaspoon melted butter
- 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
- 3 shakes cinnamon
For savory walnuts:
- 1 teaspoon tamari
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
What You Do:
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Begin by cracking the walnuts using the nutcracker. Help your child crack the first few nuts until he gets the hang of the nutcracker, then let him enjoy cracking the rest. Share a nut fact book or harvest folk tale while he cracks and shells.
- Invite your child to cover the baking sheet with a single layer of nuts, with a few centimeters of space around each nut. Allow plenty of time for this absorbing challenge!
- Help your child carefully place the nuts in the oven and set the timer for 5 minutes. When the timer goes off and the nuts are toasted and fragrant, remove them from the oven and let cool a few minutes. Don't turn the oven off yet, as you'll be using it again soon.
- Help your child transfer the nuts to the bowls using the pancake turner, placing about half the nuts in each bowl. Remind him to be careful not to touch the pan, which may still be hot.
- Now add the flavor! To make the sweet walnuts, pour the melted butter over the walnuts in the first bowl and toss to coat. Sprinkle the brown sugar and cinnamon over the walnuts and toss until the seasoning is well-distributed.
- To make the savory walnuts, follow the same procedure in the last step to flavor the second bowl of walnuts. Begin with the tamari, then add the sesame seeds.
- Once both bowls of walnuts are seasoned, pour the walnuts back onto the baking sheet, with space between each nut as before. If the nuts are still too hot to handle, use chopsticks or tongs to move them around.
- Bake the seasoned walnuts for 3-5 minutes. Ask your child to set the timer for 3 minutes at the moment you place the baking sheet in the oven. Keep an eye on the timer and a nose on the nuts together. When the timer goes off, peek in the oven and give a sniff. If the nuts smell toasty, they're done! Reset the timer for another minute if the walnuts need more time.
Use the walnuts in salads, arrange them into a fruit and nut plate, or enjoy them alone as an afternoon snack.