My favorite memory of those bakeries was the nut roll. Growing up in Texas, I'd never seen them before, and they hit all the bases for me: nutty and sweet. So when I found a nut roll recipe in one of the local papers, I squirreled it away. I had no need of it when I could buy one so easily but once I came home the recipe was golden. Over the years, it became a Christmas staple.
Then I stopped making them at all. I'd think about it before the Christmas season started but somehow time would get away from me.
Last year, I tried something new: an easy way to make a nut roll. Now, don't go comparing it with the Pittsburgh bakery-made product, ya hear? It would fail by comparison, but it satisfies me, and more importantly, it satisfies the hub, Pittsburgh born and bred.
The recipe actually calls for ground walnuts. I simply chop them.
First melt 3 T. of butter with 2 T. of milk. (I use almond milk because that's what I drink, though I keep whole milk in the house--for my cat, doncha know. I imagine the almond milk contributes to the nutty flavor.)
Combine the 1 1/2 c. chopped walnuts with 3/4 c. sugar. (These pictures are horrible. I don't get the morning light in my kitchen.)
Add the butter/milk mixture and 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla. Mix well.
Lay the crescent rolls onto parchment paper and pinch into a rectangle. I'm using a small tin because that's all I had when the hub asked for them. And yes, that's the shadow of my fingers as I photograph. Very graceful looking, innit. Not.
Roll it up.
Pinch the ends together and transfer, parchment paper and all, onto a baking sheet. Trim the paper to fit the sheet and bake in preheated 375° oven for 15 minutes or until brown. (I use the small oven in my double oven range, which takes longer to cook, so 14 minutes might work for your oven.)
Allow to cool.
Slice and enjoy! (These pieces hadn't fully cooled; it holds together much better if you wait a while.)
Package the remainder of the filling and freeze for the next time. Or add a frozen hunk of them along with a chopped apple next time you make oatmeal. Yummers!
Easy Nut Roll
1 1/2 c. chopped walnuts
3/4 c. sugar
3 T. butter
2 T. milk
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
Heat butter and milk in saucepan until melted. Combine nuts and sugar in medium bowl. Add melted butter mixture and vanilla. Mix well.
Pinch 1 tin of crescent rolls into a rectangle on parchment paper. Spread filling over rectangle, leaving edges bare. Roll up. Transfer, paper and all, to baking sheet, trimming edges of paper to fit.
Bake in preheated 375° oven for 15 minutes or until brown.