I feel so bad for my friends who have nut allergies. They are missing out on this sweet, crunchy, candied almonds recipe. Oh how wonderful they are! Sprinkle them on a spinach salad with red onion, feta cheese and tangy vinaigrette. Adorn a mound of vanilla ice cream with them, drizzle with chocolate sauce or add them to a yogurt and honey dollop, topped with fresh berries. Candied almonds are indeed the perfect complement to so many dishes that I thought you would love to learn how to make them! In less than 15 minutes, you will have 1 1/2 cups of these delicious morsels, ready to be sprinkled, adorned with and crunched on. They make a great snack too! Sometimes when I have leftovers, I use them in my homemade granola bars.
Come on in to my kitchen!
The recipe I use to make candied almonds is an oldie from Better Homes and Gardens. It seems that cooks have been “candying up” nuts for years, yet I have only just realized how remarkable they are! By making them yourself, you not only save money, but can enjoy a treat with no preservatives or added chemicals. There are just 4 simple ingredients: all natural almonds, butter, sugar and pure vanilla extract. The original recipe called for 3 cups of nuts, but I found that to be too much. You will only need half the bag to make a batch (1 1/2 cups) of candied almonds. Of course, if you are not an almond fan, walnuts or pecans would make great substitutes.
Whatever nut you decide to use, be sure you are using “all natural.” That means raw, non-roasted and non-salted. At Aldi, you can buy a 12 oz. bag of Southern Grove All Natural Almonds for about $4.29.
Start by coarsely chopping 1 ½ cups.
Spread the chopped nuts on a baking sheet and put into a preheated 325 degree oven. Set the timer for 9 minutes.
Place a piece of parchment paper on a separate baking sheet and set aside. This is where your hot nuts will cool down. If you don’t have parchment, you can use a piece of greased aluminum foil. Be sure not to use wax paper because the nuts will melt through the wax paper and you nobody really cares for candied wax nuts!
Meanwhile, in a heavy bottom saucepan, pour ¼ cup granulated sugar and place on medium high heat. I have used raw sugar, sucanat and brown sugar in the past, but I find that gool ol’ granulated beet sugar works best.
Right next to the pan, set your T. butter and ¼ tsp. vanilla so that you are ready at go-time. Candying nuts require a bit of fast hands at the end and you want to be ready.
Give the pan a little shake to even out the sugar. At this point, you don’t want to do any stirring, just shaking. After a couple minutes on medium high heat, you will start to see a corner of the sugar begin to liquefy. Again, no stirring yet; just a little shake here and there.
While watching, you will see less of the granulated sugar and more of the liquidized sugar…
And since we have a bit of time here, how about a little almond trivia? Did you know that almonds are rich in flavanoids? Such a funny little word!
As the sugar is melting, the timer for your almonds will probably go off – go ahead and get those babies out. Set them aside.
When there is just a small amount of granulated sugar remaining and the liquid form begins to turn light brown, you are ready to get your stir on! Using a metal or wooden spoon, stir the remaining granulated portion into the liquid until all is melted.
In a matter of seconds, the color will become light brown due to the carmelization process. Almost done!
Working quickly, stir in 1 T. butter (do not use unsalted). The butter will bubble up and thicken the sauce as it melts.
Now add your ¼ t. vanilla extract. It too will bubble up and sizzle as you stir it in.
Keeping the same heat level, quickly pour in your hot nuts straight from the baking sheet. The picture is a bit blurry because I working at top speed while also trying to use my camera. Making candied nuts can be a great adrenaline rush! From butter to nuts, it is only a matter of seconds.
Stir, stir, stir until all the nuts are coated with the hot, caramel sauce.
Turn off the heat and pour the coated nuts onto your prepared lining. Spread them out evenly with the spoon. They will still be very hot! Resist the urge to burn your tongue in tasting one and allow them to cool 🙂
After they are cool to touch, you may find some of the almonds have clustered themselves into little families. You can easily break them apart again before storing them in an airtight container.
This, my friends, is my family’s favorite way to serve candied almonds…decorating homemade black brownies, chocolate coconut sauce, whipped cream and a few chopped dried cherries.
- 1 1/2 cups chopped all natural almonds (or walnuts; pecans)
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 T. butter
- 1/4 t. pure vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees
- Coarsely chop 1 ½ cups of nuts.
- Spread the chopped nuts on a baking sheet and put into the preheated oven. Set the timer for 9 minutes.
- Place a piece of parchment paper on a separate baking sheet and set aside.
- Meanwhile, in a heavy bottom saucepan, pour ¼ cup granulated sugar and place on medium high heat.
- Give the pan a little shake to even out the sugar. Do not stir, just shake the pan here and there. The sugar will begin to melt.
- When there is just a small amount of granulated sugar remaining and the liquid form begins to turn light brown, stir the remaining granulated portion into the liquid until all is melted.
- Working quickly, stir in 1 T. butter and then ¼ t. vanilla extract.
- Keeping the same heat level, quickly pour in your hot nuts straight from the baking sheet.
- Stir until all the nuts are coated with the hot, caramel sauce.
- Turn off the heat and spread the coated nuts onto your prepared lining.
- After they are cool to touch, break them apart and store in an airtight container.
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