Heat a pan over medium high heat and place the walnuts in the pan. Roast for 3-5 minutes, until lightly browned, stirring often to avoid the walnuts burning. Set aside for now.
1 cup walnuts
In a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar, white sugar, salt and cayenne pepper. Add the water and mix again. Pour in a cold pan and place over medium heat. Bring to a boil and let simmer for 5-10 minutes, until golden brown and all the sugar has melted. Take care so that the sugars don't burn . Do not stir after the mixture has started boiling - if it browns unevenly, instead tip the pan a bit to mix.
2 tablespoon brown sugar, 2 tablespoon white sugar, ¾ teaspoon salt, ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper, 2 tablespoon water
Add in the walnuts and mix, and then pour them onto a baking sheet placed on a heat resistance surface, and spread them out in a single layer. Leave to cool for at least 5-10 minutes.
Ingredient notes & substitutions
Walnuts can be swapped for another type of nut, like almonds or pecans
Sugar: You can use both white and brown sugar, or just one of them. Changing the ratio will change the taste slightly. If using only white sugar there's a higher risk of the mixture burning, so keep a close eye on it.
Salt: The amount stated here makes them quite salty, so feel free to reduce the amount if desired
Cayenne pepper can be excluded, and the amount adjusted to make them more or less spicy (amount stated gives them just a light kick)
Tips & tricks
Roast the walnuts first to add flavor and make them crispier
Don't burn the sugar to avoid that bitter burnt-sugar taste
Don't stir after the sugar starts simmering to avoid sugar crystals forming
Allow the walnuts to cool for at least 5 minutes before tasting - hot sugar really burns!
Store in an air tight container in room temperature for up to 2 weeks
Why are my candied walnuts sticky?
If your candied walnuts are still sticky after they have cooled down, this is probably because you didn't let the sugar mixture simmer long enough. You can fix this by baking them in the oven for 5-15 minutes at 325°F (160°C), until they're less sticky.