Culinary Inspiration

Baking during the holidays is a time-honored tradition. When searching for treats to try this holiday season, take a cue from our friends around the world! Baking with walnuts is something many cultures have in common, so we’ve rounded up some of our favorite international sweet treats that use California walnuts. From baklava to rugelach, we’ve got everything you need to bake your way around the globe!

Holiday Baking with California Walnuts

Baklava Two Ways

Who doesn’t love baklava? This Mediterranean dessert features layers of flaky pastry dough stuffed with walnuts and honey. Don’t let the intricate and delicate layers intimidate you, though. Baklava is actually easier to execute than some cookie recipes, so even novice bakers can try their hand at this indulgent dessert!
If you’re wanting to explore the classic version of baklava, this recipe features all of the walnut and cinnamon flavors you love. Perfect for holiday desserts or gift giving, the secret to flawless presentation is to cut the baklava into individual pieces while the phyllo dough is still warm. If you’re wanting to try a twist on the traditional, this Chocolate Walnut Rolled Baklava is for you! This rolled baklava features finely chopped California walnuts, semi-sweet chocolate chips, and a simple syrup made from sugar and lemon juice. Plus, rolling the dough is even easier than layering!

Dulce de Leche and Walnut Alfajores

Head to South America when you make this simple walnut dessert: soft, delicate Dulce de Leche and Walnut Alfajores. These cookies are made with cornstarch, which keeps them soft while baking. Dulce de leche glues the cookies together, and the edges are rolled in finely chopped California walnuts to give them some added texture and crunch. The best part is they don’t take long to bake, so you can make plenty in a short amount of time. Great for cookie tins or as part of a dessert spread, these alfajores will go fast, so make sure you double the recipe!

Honey Walnut Empanadas

Also inspired by Latin America, Honey Walnut Empanadas are a sweet take on the classically savory handheld pastry. Fantastic for dessert buffets or even as a starter to a larger meal, these empanadas come together quickly and easily. A basic dough is filled with rich cream cheese, chopped California walnuts and honey. Baked golden brown to perfection, these treats are delicious served warm or at room temperature.

Also called polvorones, Mexican Wedding Cookies aren’t just for nuptials. They’re delicious for enjoying any time of year, especially around the holidays! These delightful, bite-sized cookies with less than ten ingredients you likely already have in your kitchen are perfect for cookie tins and dessert trays. California walnuts combine with vanilla to create an amazing flavor combination. To top it off, the cookies are rolled in powdered sugar for a photo-worthy finish.


If you want some wow factor, add rugelach to your dessert table this season. Originating from the Jewish communities of Poland, rugelach is a holiday staple in many kitchens. A cream cheese and butter dough is the foundation for a cinnamon, apricot and chopped California walnuts filling. The time spent in the kitchen is well worth this tasty treat. These bite-sized pastries are buttery, flaky and crispy all at once. The best part is your entire house will smell like warm cinnamon–it’s like aromatherapy for the holiday season!

No matter where you head with your culinary travels during your holiday baking, know that California walnuts will be there to guide the way. It’s simple and easy to create an array of dazzling desserts when walnuts are featured in your recipes.

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