Saturday, January 8, 2011

Sometimes I Feel Like a Nut

Well, hello!  It’s been awhile.  I’ve missed you guys!  December turned out to be a lot crazier than I thought and unfortunately blogging to took a backseat to everything else. 

candied-almonds

For most folks December is when they break out their cookie sheets, dust off their mixer, and stock up butter and sugar and it should have been no different for me.  As a food blogger and one who blogs about desserts I should have been baking up a storm.  Unfortunately it  didn’t happen.  I did though make these scrumptious addicting candied almonds.  Twice.  Both times I made them with the intention of sharing them with my neighbors but like my Christmas baking it didn’t happen.  I have Jonna to thank for sharing the recipe.  Jonna has a delicious blog and I have yet to be disappointed with any of her recipes.  As a matter of fact the only other recipe I made last month that was baked for Christmas Day was hers.  I’ll be sharing it with you at some point, too.

candied-almonds-CU

BURNT SUGAR ALMONDS

~ Gebrannte Mandeln~

Ingredients

  • ⅓ cup Water, Plus 2 Tablespoons
  • 1 cup & ⅓ cup Sugar, Divided
  • 1 teaspoon Cinnamon, Ground
  • 2 cups Raw Almonds (I also used pecans.)
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract (I used vanilla bean paste)

Directions:

Notes before beginning: Make sure that you DO NOT let the first sugar mixture evaporate until it’s dry.  You don’t want it soupy, but rather a very thick syrup that is adhering to the nuts.  This is when you will add your second addition of sugar (1/3 cup).  If your mixture does become too dry, and all the sugar has dried up – don’t throw everything away.  It’s o.k.!  Just add a couple tablespoons of warm water, and stir until you have a bit of shine, but also some lumps beginning to form.

Use a heavy saucepan (NOT the nonstick kind) and a wooden spoon.

First add the water, 1 cup of sugar and the cinnamon and stir. Bring it to a boil over medium heat. Add the almonds to the mix, raise the temperature to high heat and stir CONSTANTLY until the water is boiled away.

The sugar will dry out a little but start to stick to the almonds. Keep stirring them around, so that the almonds don’t burn on the bottom of the pan.

Turn the heat under the pan to medium-low, to keep the sugar from browning too fast. Keep stirring until the almonds start having an even shiny coat.

Now dump in the rest of your sugar. Keep stirring, and add your vanilla. At this point, I like to mention that if you have vanilla sugar or a powdered type of vanilla flavoring, do feel free to use that over the liquid kind. It tends to work better. If you do, mix it with the 1/3 of a cup of sugar you are using for the second lot of sugar.

At this point, there might be quite some noise ensuing from your pan. Some crackling and popping, but hopefully no snapping. It depends on how fresh your almonds were. Really fresh almonds will make a popping noise and the coat may start to crack. That’s the water in the almonds escaping. If the almonds are older, there won’t be as much of that!

Keep stirring until the almonds are fairly shiny, but still a bit lumpy. You don’t want them completely smooth. The best ones are the ones that are shiny in some areas with some delicious lumps of cinnamon sugar on other parts of the almond.

As soon as you see that happening, take them off the heat and transfer the almonds to a sheet of parchment paper. Spread them apart as much as you can, but don’t worry about some of them sticking together initially.  However, BE CAREFUL. These are extremely hot, so only use a spoon. These babies can really burn you!

While they are cooling down, keep on breaking them apart with your spoon(s) until they are all separated. Fair warning: these are totally divine when they are still ever-so-slightly warm. You’ve been warned!

Once they are cooled, hide them in a dry, closed container. Theoretically, they keep for several weeks.

Don’t be put off by the length of the directions!  They are just very detailed.

true-nuts

While we’re on the top of nuts, last month I won a contest Avril was having on her blog.  She was giving away several boxes of The True Nuts.  (Read about the company here.  Even if you don’t love almonds you have to love their social consciousness.) received five different flavors of roasted maple almonds.  Some of the flavors were expected and a few were a surprise.  My favorite was the the coconut.  As a matter of fact I’m last few that are left while I type this.  :) Thanks Avril!

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