I've never made candy before but this simple recipe is the perfect place to start. I was looking for something easy to make that would be pretty in gift bags for the holidays, and since I had all the ingredients readily available, I gave this a test run. It passed, and will be included in my secret Santa gift at work next week!
Chocolate Cashew Toffee
Adapted from The Kitchn's Skillet Toffee
1 pound (450g) salted butter
2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 handfuls of good quality semi-sweet chocolate, chopped or in chips
200g cashews, toasted (other nuts would probably work well too)
Line the bottom and sides of a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large heavy pot (I used my Dutch oven), melt the butter over medium high heat. As the butter melts, stir in the sugar. Continue stirring constantly and rapidly with a wooden spoon. The mixture should bubble as you stir. Cook until the mixture turns a deep golden brown, taking care not to burn it. (Note: I tried to be clever and made a half batch of this - it was a terrible idea and the toffee burnt very quickly. I think the full amount makes it cook at a speed where it is much easier to get it to come together without burning it.) When it is ready, it should look like a smooth mixture with no separated butter fats, and it will be around 300F. If you take a small amount and put it in cool water, it will harden. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla.
Pour the mixture into the lined baking sheet. Allow to cool slightly, about 5 minutes, then sprinkle the mixture with the chocolate. When the chocolate looks glossy, spread it with an offset cake spatula or a wooden spatula, and sprinkle with the nuts. Gently press the nuts into the chocolate with the palms of your hands.
Cool completely (I stuck mine in the fridge for a while) then break the toffee into chunks.