Thursday, December 22, 2011

Burnt Sugar Almonds

There are some foods that when you taste them they immediately bring to mind memories and emotions that were locked away in your mind.  It's like suddenly remembering a wonderful dream.  These almonds do that for me.

My mom probably made over a hundred different recipes for Christmas treats over the years while I was growing up.  I remember a sweet almond recipe that I just could not get enough of as a kid.  As an adult I tried to get that recipe from my Mom.  Unfortunately my mom acquired many sugared almond recipes but none of them was the one I remembered!  I tried a number of recipes that were all pretty good, but none were amazing.

Then last year I discovered this recipe on Tasty Kitchen.  It was a dream come true.  At the first bite emotions that I didn't know were in me rushed to the surface.  They were so good, I had to make another batch two days later because the first one was all gone.

This is not a difficult recipe to make but is does require your constant attention.  Don't worry.  It's worth it. In about 30 minutes they're done and you just made a fantastic homemade treat for your family.

Burnt Sugar Almonds

1 and 1/3 cup sugar (divided)
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups raw almonds
1 teaspoon vanilla

To start, you need to get out parchment paper or a silpat to put the almonds on when they are done.  Then you will need to have your ingredients out near the stove so you can add them when you are ready.  Have 1/3 cup of the sugar already measured so you can use it at the right time.

In a medium heavy bottomed sauce pan combine 1 cup of the sugar, the water, and the cinnamon.  Bring to a boil over medium heat.  When it boils add almonds and turn the heat up to high.  Stir constantly until all the water is evaporated, about 5-10 minutes.

In this photo the almonds are mostly dry but are just starting
to become shiny.
When water is gone turn the heat to medium low.  At this point the almonds are going to look dry and powdery and you will be wondering why you are stirring.  Keep stirring.  After a few minutes the sugar will start to melt and the almonds will become shiny.

When the almonds are all coated in the shiny melted sugar, add the reserved 1/3 cup sugar and the vanilla.  Stir just a couple minutes longer until the almonds are mostly shiny but still have a few lumps of sugar on them.  Immediately pour it out onto your parchment paper.  Spread the almonds out with a spoon so that they don't dry in a clump.

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