1-1/2 Cups whole raw cashews
1 Cup sugar
2 tsp Vanilla Paste
1/2 Cup light corn syrup
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-sized chunks
1/4 Cup water
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp Cayenne Pepper
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Pour the raw cashews onto a clean, dry rimmed baking sheet. Spread the nuts out in a single layer and toast for ten minutes, stirring at the five-minute mark. Remove baking sheet from the oven, and set aside in a warm place.
Line the bottom of another rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper that has been buttered. Combine the sugar, corn syrup, butter and water to a boil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir constantly while the sugar mixture cooks over moderately high heat until a “deep amber” toffee forms, about 10 minutes.
Remove saucepan from the heat. Use a whisk to add the baking soda and cayenne (if using). This will cause a chemical reaction that may surprise you: it will instantly foam and bubble up. Add the warm cashews to the molten sugar-soda mixture; use a long-handled wooden spoon to evenly distribute nuts throughout the candy.
Pour the hot nut not-yet-totally-brittle onto the buttered, parchment-lined baking sheet. Use your wooden spoon plus another utensil (another wooden spoon or a frosting spatula), spreading the candy out as thinly as possible while it is still warm enough to be malleable.
Allow tray of nut brittle to cool completely before breaking into chunks. Store leftover candy in a sealable container for up to two weeks.
Candy making can be tricky! It helps to brush up on techniques and reading a few “how-to” websites first!
Adapted from Food and Wine