’Tis officially the holiday season! Whether you like it or not. I like it. I like everything about it. Except for that feeling when you still have 18 things left on your list to buy and you know you have about 24 hours before shipping by Christmas Eve becomes impossible. Or that feeling when you’re in the mall and you start to get claustrophobic and you’re in a really hot winter coat and all you can hear is the same Christmas song (probably Jingle Bell Rock) playing over and over again and babies crying. Other than those things, I love it all.
It’s tough to pick my favorite thing about the holidays, but obviously getting in the kitchen to cook and bake (and cocktail!) holiday treats is up there. So, when Planters invited me to team up with them to show how I’d utilize cashews and mixed nuts to entertain during the holiday season, I was totally game. Because I also don’t love when I have 23 holiday parties to attend and no idea what to bring to any of them.
Problem solved. Also, did you know Planters had so many delicious and fun nut varieties (pro tip: the Salted Caramel Peanuts are one of the best things on Earth. Yes, Earth). Plus, nuts are packed with a combination of good fats, dietary fiber, and vitamins and minerals, so they make a deliciously powerful addition to any holiday festivity. #GoNuts!
I decided to create a holiday party dessert platter, showcasing the various delights you can easily create with Planters Nuts. First on my list was chocolate covered nuts! I made mint chocolate covered cashews. And dark chocolate covered mixed nuts. Dark chocolate is already packed with antioxidants, so when you combine it with nuts, you not only have a delicious dessert, but one that includes lots of healthy benefits.
Don’t ask me which I liked best because that will only mean I have to go back downstairs to my kitchen to eat another one of each (OK fineee, ask me!)
They’re super easy to make, which is why you can make them in multiple flavors. If you don’t want to use chocolate, feel free to try them with butterscotch chips… Or peanut butter chips… Or any kind of candy melts!
I used 10 oz. of chocolate and 8 oz. of nuts for each of these recipes. Lots of recipes will have you using double the chocolate of the nuts, but I didn’t find that necessary. I wanted to let the flavor shine!
All you do is melt the chocolate. I recommend using a double boiler… Or making your own by putting a heat-proof bowl over a saucepan of gently boiling water.
You could melt the chocolate in a microwave, too, but I find it much easier to melt chocolate via the double boiler method; it’s smoother and easier to control.
Once melted, move the saucepan off the heat and mix in the cashews or mixed nuts.
Until completely coated in chocolate.
Then scoop tablespoons worth onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet. I used a cookie scoop, which made things much easier.
Let the chocolate harden. Here are the cashews:
And the mixed nuts:
Of course, you can sprinkle on some festive sprinkles before the chocolate hardens for full holiday effect.
Next up for my dessert platter, I made a quick and easy cashew brittle.
I stirred 1 1/4 C sugar and 1/2 C water together in a medium saucepan and then brought the mixture to a boil.
I let it boil for about 5 minutes, until it started to turn golden. And then I continued to cook, stirring every now and then until the sugar was all dissolved and the mixture was much darker. This took about 10 minutes.
At this point, I took the saucepan off the heat and working quickly, stirred in the cashew. I used 12 oz. because I wanted this brittle to be fully loaded. And then poured the mixture onto a Silpat on a baking sheet. Mine spread perfectly, but if it needs some help, you can spray a metal spatula with some cooking spray and use to spread. Also, if you’re not using a Silpat, you’ll want to spray your baking sheet with oil or rub it in butter. Otherwise, this stuff will stick like crazy!
Now, let it sit for 20 minutes or so and it will harden right up.
Break me off a piece of that! Please.
I did something similar with maple syrup and cashews, but I only used 1/4 C of maple syrup and stirred the cashews in as the syrup boiled. I let it boil for a few minutes, until the maple syrup thickened quite a bit.
Then I put the cashews on a Silpat and sprinkled powdered sugar over them. Deliciously sweet maple-y flavor.
You should also be sure to put out a bowl of mixed nuts because some of your party guests will likely enjoy their cashews, almonds, Brazil nuts, pecans, peanuts, and pistachios au natural.
I’m sure they wouldn’t complain if you put out any of these varieties, either…
I recommend putting all your nutty treats on a platter and letting your guests pick and choose whatever they want.
Add little place cards or labels, so everyone can easily see what each treat is all about.
But like I said, don’t make me choose my favorite.
Would it be weird if I said I wanted to be invited to my own party? Probably.
I’m pretty sure I just barely touched on the recipes I could have created with Planters cashews and mixed nuts. But I feel like I got a pretty fabulous start on my holiday party planning. Which means one less moment of anxiety in the coming weeks. Deep breaths.
I’m also pretty sure Santa wouldn’t complain if you left some chocolate covered nuts or cashew brittle out for him. See? You don’t even have to make cookies for him. Plus, remember, nuts are packed with the good fats, fiber, and vitamins and minerals… And we all know Santa could use some of that!
Here I am just solving all your holiday problems. If only I could purchase all your gifts for you so you’re not freaking out at the last minute. But I’ll be too busy standing in the mall sweating in my huge down jacket as I try to figure out the perfect gift for everyone on my own list.
At least I can come home from shopping and put my feet up since I know what to bring to all the season’s holiday parties! #GoNuts!
How do you incorporate cashews and mixed nuts into your holiday party planning?
Full disclosure: This post was sponsored by Planters, but as always, all opinions are 100% my own!