Years ago, my cousin Nancy emailed me my Great-Grandma’s recipe for Noant, a homemade candy that I ate when I was a little girl. Grandma Mimi used to put a dish of it on her glass coffee table for guests to munch on at the beginning of holiday parties. She used to keep loads of it in the freezer and serve it cold but defrosted. Grandma had an extra fridge downstairs in her garage, as I assumed all great cooks did at the time. (I was totally wrong. Most people do not have an extra fridge in the garage, no matter how much they love to cook. Then again, I was about ten years old, so I had a lot of questionable ideas about the world.)
When I was 18 years old, I tried to master this recipe. But when I made it, I started to get this unbelievably painful, raw, raised rash all over my hands and wrists. And when I ate my hard work, my mouth felt dry and painful, as if something terrible was going to happen if I didn’t guzzle water for all of eternity.
So, that was when I discovered I’m allergic to walnuts.
It is definitely painful to blog a recipe that was such a big part of my childhood, that I will never be able to eat again. But when I look back on the history of what I used to eat, I couldn’t deny that Noant was what holidays with Grandma Mimi tasted like. I was right about one thing. back in the day. Harry Potter. Laura used to reread the entire Harry Potter series on repeat on the couch in the den at Grandma’s house, back in the day when the entire series was just three or four books long. Totally normal kid behavior, apparently, because years later, Ben did the same thing. He used to reread the entire series every summer. By then, of course, the series was longer.
But the thing is, while painful changes may occur in real life, like my inability to handle a walnut, Harry Potter will always be a constant. I like to re-live it on CD while I drive, because when you slow down and hear it spoken, you realize what a master J.K. Rowling truly is. And also? I like to have Harry, Ron, and Hermione’s company in the car!
Noant, an heirloom recipe for walnut candies
Contains tree nuts.
You will need….
1 lb. honey
2 Tbsp sugar
1 lb. chopped walnuts
juice of 1/2 lemon plus 2 slices of lemon
In a VERY LARGE pot on the stove, heat honey and sugar to a rolling boil.
Add walnuts, lemon juice, and lemon slices. Mix with a wooden spoon; combine well. Continue to keep on the heat and stir it, until the honey is absorbed and is no longer a liquid. Nancy says to keep it on the stove for around 30 minutes — cooking it long enough ensures that it will firm up properly.
Wet a very large cutting board.
Pour the mixture onto it, and remove the lemon slices. (You can eat those, too!) Flatten your mixture until it is 1/2 inch high using a wet rolling pin and also using your wet hand. Nancy notes that your hand allows for greater control, but the mixture is extremely hot. So the rolling pin helps, as well as continuing to wet your hand several times throughout the process.
Let the mixture set. Once it has become firm, cut pieces into squares or triangular shapes. This recipes makes quite a large amount and can easily be frozen for a very long time.