These are easy...fun...a bit different to make. I had every intention on using them as a topping for my roasted beet and goat cheese salad. But well, it didn’t really work out like that. One taste test, to make sure I got the crunchy/salty/sweet/spicy combination right, led to another taste, which led to “just one more.” That, in turn, led to a “hey, try one of these,” which led me to just sticking them in a bowl, munching on them, then making another batch for the salad. What’s nice about these is that they are lighter and fresher tasting than a “praline” nut - crunchy without being teeth-chipping-hard.
Makes enough to enjoy on their own (without getting yourself sick) and if they last, a nice topping for a salad
2 cups water
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
12oz shelled walnut halves, unsalted
Course sea salt
Preheat oven to 450°F.
Heat water, sugar, and cayenne pepper in a heavy saucepan over high heat. Cook until the sugar dissolves brushing down the sides of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in water. Add walnuts and stir to coat. Reduce heat to medium.
Cook for 15minutes stirring regularly and wiping down the sides of the pan with the pastry brush as necessary.
Line a baking tray with foil, spray with cooking oil. Using a slotted spoon transfer nuts to the tray. Sprinkle liberally with salt and bake for 5-8 minutes until they turn a deep walnut-brown color.
Keep an eye on them; do not over bake since the sugar will burn easily. Cool and separate any pieces that are stuck together. Use as an appetizer or topping for salad (if they last that long). The walnuts will keep in an air tight container for a few days.
It’s All Delicious Notes: 1) These are addictive. 2) Substitute chipotle chili pepper for the cayenne pepper for a smoky spicy sweet nut! 3) I tried using cashews, but they really didn’t work as well as the walnuts.