Let's start with a disclaimer: These nuts are addicting. DO NOT leave them around your family if you are thinking about gifting them. Also, make more than you think you'll want. Trust me.
Ok, moving on. These nuts are a holiday staple in my home, here's why. They are:
Great to serve with wine/cocktails or bring to a party
Delicious on salads or as an ice cream topping, etc
Perfect for late-night (or anytime) munching
Always well-received in mason jars as gifts
So simple and quick to make
Have I convinced you to try them?
2 Tbsp + 2 tsp warm water
1 c powdered sugar
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp cayenne pepper - powdered
4 c raw, unsalted mixed nuts* (my faves: hazelnuts, cashews, pecans and almonds - but any nuts will be yummy)
Pre-heat oven to 350. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. I do not recommend using foil for this as the nuts tend to stick.
Whisk together everything but the nuts in a large bowl. Add nuts and toss to coat evenly.
Spread nuts in a single layer on baking sheet and be sure to get every last drop of the syrup out of the bowl and onto your nuts. If you have too many nuts to create a single layer, remove some and use a second baking sheet otherwise they won't cook evenly.
Bake on center oven rack for 12-15 minutes until nuts are deeply brown and caramelized. Remove from oven and slide the parchment paper off the pan and onto counter, cutting board or cooling rack. Once nuts are completely cool, the syrup should be crisp and break easily into small clusters or individual nuts, depending on your preference.
Note: If the nuts are sticky after cooling, they are not quite done enough. Pop them back in the oven for a few minutes, let them cool, and try again.