Orange Walnuts

At Christmas we exchange all sorts of confections and condiments, some of them put up in summer and some of them made just for the holidays. Libby Demetree was born into dual old Lowcountry families—the Scottish Frasers of Georgetown and the French Hugers (pronounced “U.G.”) of Charleston, both renowned for their cooking skills. Her aunt Bessie Fraser Betancourt makes wonderful preserves and candies, among them these orange-flavored, sugared nuts, which Libby brings to me. Of these favored treats, Bessie says, “Very easy and very nice.” I’ll say!


  • 1 large juicy orange
  • cups sugar
  • 3 cups walnut halves


Taking care not to dig into the white part, zest the orange rind and set aside. Squeeze the juice of the orange into a measuring cup; you should have ½ cup (if not, add enough water to make ½ cup). Boil the sugar with the orange juice until a thermometer reads 234° or a small quantity of the mixture dropped into cold water forms a soft ball. Remove from the heat and add the orange zest and walnuts. Stir until the mixture looks cloudy. When it begins to sugar, dump it all out onto wax paper or a greased cookie sheet or marble slab. If it hardens before it is dropped, scrape the entire contents of the pot onto the paper or greased surface. Separate into bite- size morsels about half the size of a walnut.