Before I tell you the conversation that led me to the discovery of nutmeats, let me give you the background on our Orange Chewins. Straight up, these brown-sugared, orange slice candy-filled, coconut, crackly crusted bars are not my favorite. But they are one of my sister Heidi’s favorite Christmas treats that my mom makes.
My sister travels a lot in her corporate trainer job and doesn’t get much time to spend at home, this means no time to bake and a lot of time being exposed to candy bars with a 7-year gas station shelf life. So, being the (sorta) nice sister that I am, I wanted to bake Orange Chewins for Heidi one weekend when she was coming home.
But I didn’t.
Then during our family Christmas, my mom asked me if I had made them for Heidi that one time a couple of months back.
With my sisters, mom, and step-mom sitting around the tables, I said, “No, I didn’t make them because there was an ingredient in the recipe that I didn’t know what it was.”
My mom asked me what it was and I said I couldn’t remember – just that it was something that I wasn’t familiar with.
Perplexed, my mom said, “There’s not anything unusual in them – brown sugar, eggs, orange slices, coconut…”
But I knew that there was something on that recipe card that stopped me from baking Orange Chewins for Heidi that weekend. So I dug into my cupboard and pulled the card from my wooden recipe roll-top file.
“Nutmeats!” I exclaimed. “There are nutmeats in there and I don’t know what that is.”
“Those are nuts. Just the insides of nuts,” my mom said.
“Oh, THAT’S what they are. You can tell it’s an old recipe because they are just called nuts now,” I said trying to recover an ounce of scratch-baking pride.
A few weeks later, I baked Orange Chewins for the first time. But by that time, the coconut I had was gone. So I substituted oatmeal and sent them off to Heidi’s. She liked them that way so much that she said she’ll bake them that way from now on. I liked them this way too because I don’t like coconut, which is probably why I never really like these. Either way, coconut or oatmeal or a little of both, these could become a favorite at your house.
I thought it would be nice to share a family recipe that isn’t as widely recognized as grandma’s chocolate chip cookies.
But secretly, I’m hoping there’s at least one person out there who reads this and says, “Ha, I wouldn’t have known what nutmeats are either.”
Orange Chewins Bars
3 eggs well beaten
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups orange slices (Heidi uses floured kitchen scissors to cut them easily into bite sized pieces. I toss the pieces with sugar to keep them from sticking to each other.)
1/2 cup chopped nutmeats (pecan pieces, chopped walnuts, etc.)
1/2 cup coconut OR 1/2 cup quick-cooking oatmeal
2 cups flour
- Beat eggs until foamy with the water.
- Add vanilla, gradually add brown sugar and salt. Beat well and then add orange slice candy pieces, coconut, nuts & flour. Mix well.
- Pour into greased 15 x 10 x 1 pan. Bake at 375° for 20 minutes.
- Cut before completely cooled.
* * * * * * * *