I have made this recipe several times. To me, it is a little tempermental... like toffee and other caramel type recipes. My first two batches were a little sugary - the water and sugar was hardening as clumpy granular sugar and not s a caramel. So, I studied... "caramelizing sugar/water". I switched from a saute pan to a ... high side medium-size heavier All-Clad pan. I recommend a light colored pan so you can see the mixture change to caramel color... and I used a silicone spatula to stir until the sugar dissolved. Once the sugar dissolved and the mixture was clear, I added 1/8 tsp Cream of Tartar... to keep the sugar from crystallizing.... and I used a candy thermometer. I swirled the pan until the mixture turned a nice caramel color and reached about 330 degrees. YAY - this worked amazing!
All that to say... this isn't a hard recipe. I just needed to figure it out!
The recipe does call for kosher salt and fleur de sel. I wasn't sure about the "fleur de sel" so I googled it. You could use any sea salt .... but always go that extra mile and use fleur de sel if you have any or have access to it. I did remember that my good friend Barb had given me a little ziploc bag of Fleur de Sel for just this kind of recipe.
1st try - they were great, Tried again below and were edible and too sugary and then... see third picture! YAY - they are so yummy! These nuts would make a great gift!
OOPS - taste good - look awful! This is when I decided to add the 1/8 tsp Cream of Tartar just after melting and use a candy thermometer!
This is my third try - this is AWESOME!
Salted Caramel Nuts (adapted from Ina Garten and People magazine)
1 cup each whole roasted cashews, whole large pecan halves,
whole unsalted almonds and whole walnut halves (4 cups total)
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp fleur de sel
Preheat oven to 350. Combine the nuts and spread them to a thin layer on a sheet pan. Roast them for 7 minutes of until they become fragrant. Set aside to cool.
After the nuts are cooled, place sugar and 1/4 cup water in a medium 10 inch saute pan ( I like a a medium heavy pan with sides) and mix with a silicone spook..., until all of the sugar is moistened. Cook over medium-high heat until the sugar melts... and is clear. Mix in 1/8 tsp of Cream of Tartar to keep mixture from crystallizing. From this point on, don't stir the caramel, just the swirl the pan. Don't worry, the mixture may start to look as they it's crystallizing, continue swirling for 5 - 10 minutes, until the mixture because a clear golden brown, swirling the pan constantly at the end. (I chose to use a candy thermometer until it reached about 330 degrees) Take off the heat, quickly add the vanilla (it will bubble up) and swirl the pan to combine. Quickly add the nuts and kosher salt and using two large spoons, quickly toss until the nuts are completely coated.
Pour the nuts any any extra caramel in the pan onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Spread the nuts out in one layer - pulling them apart with two forks. Sprinkle with Fleur De Sel (or sea salt) and set aside to cool. When they are completely cooled, carefully break the nuts into the desired size pieces, trying not to break the nuts too much!