Almond Joy

Ever since I attended the All About Almonds event back in November, I’ve found myself addicted to the things. That’s partly because they sent us home with pounds of almonds in various forms, and I’ve been eating them for months, but one item in the swag bag  – a package of cinnamon-sugared almonds – intrigued me enough that I’ve been making my own for a while now, working with various ratios and spices to get the perfect addictive product.

There are many different processes for candying nuts. Some recipes called for whipped egg white (which create almost a meringue coating), others instruct cooks to remove the nuts from the boiling sugar and water solution with a slotted spoon and roll in spices and more sugar before toasting, while others still require letting the sugar brown and caramelize. Every method creates a different type of candy coating and once you get spices in there, the options are even more vast.

This final one might just be the keeper, though, as the flavours really seemed to work nicely and the coating has a good texture.

We love these as a snack to replace regular candy or cookies, and almonds are so healthy that we can almost feel virtuous about eating them, even with a tiny bit of sugar and butter in the recipe.

Orange Rosemary Almonds

2 pounds shelled almonds
grated rind of 1 orange
juice of 1 orange plus enough water to make 1 cup
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon and cardamom
1 Tbsp butter
pinch salt – smoked sea salt if you have it
1 tbsp chopped rosemary – fresh if possible, but dried will work

Line two rimmed baking pans with parchment paper and preheat oven to 400°F.

In a medium saucepan, combine the water and orange juice mixture, orange rind, sugar, and cinnamon and cardamom. Bring to a boil. Let boil for a few minutes or until mixture reduces by about 25%.

Add almonds and stir continuously for a few minutes, continuing to let the liquid boil. When liquid has reduced by 50%, add butter. When liquid is almost gone and coats the back of a spoon, add the rosemary and salt. Stir well one final time and then, using a slotted spoon, quickly spread almonds on the two baking sheets. Leave any excess liquid (there shouldn’t be much) behind.

Place almonds in the preheated oven for about 12 minutes, rotating pans at the halfway mark if they’re on different racks.

Remove almonds from oven and carefully stir so they don’t clump together. Allow to cool 10 minutes and then stir again, breaking the nuts up into individual nuts or small clumps.

Store in an airtight container.