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If you want to turn back in time, think about caramelized almonds. They are toothsome, sweet but not sickening. I do love them. Both adult and children go crazy over them.
Typically, you may find them at the fun fairs: crunchy and tempting; when you put a caramelized almond into your mouth, you can’t stop eating- only one more, only one more… . You recognize their unique perfume from afar: caramelized sugar.
My grandad Vasco used to make them for me on Sunday afternoons; he was the most leading expert in the field! I remember caramelized almonds in a bowl- the perfect snack to crunch while we were playing cards! So sweet memories!
A funny story…
Well, there is more: I have been looking into the story of this sweet delicacy- I have found out that candied almonds or caramelized peanuts are called “addormentasuocere” (in English something like, sleeping pills for mothers in law!) because the fiancés used to give their mothers in law a bag of these sweets in order to distract them. In fact the women were so busy with eating slowly the sweets (not to break any teeth), that they didn’t have time to disturb the two fiancés. Very very funny, but today it is quite old-fashioned.
Simple ingredients: shell fruit (I have used almonds, but you can use any to your taste, peanuts, nuts, pistachio nuts,…), sugar, and water for a rally toothsome result, almost unbelievable.
You can make two different types of sweets with the same ingredients: pralines, or caramelized almonds, according to the cooking time.
Pralines have a thicker, crunchier and sugary coating, whereas the cooking time of caramelized almonds is longer and they taste caramel and have a more intese aroma. They are brighter surface too.
What to do not to lose your patience when you make them
- If you choose peanuts for this recipe, buy toasted peanuts with the skin: about 230g that means 150g ones without shell. Take your time to shell, better …ask someone for help! This is the longest and most boring part of the recipe!
- Never leave the kitchen while you are cooking them: sugar and almonds may get together in a very hard block you can’t cut. You can’t eat them easily, if they get too hard;
- Do not darken the almonds, they will get sour (they must be sweet); they must get from golden to amber;
- Opt for a steel skillet which makes the almonds beautifully golden (and you won’t damage the skillet itself); non stick ones do not give the same effect;
- As soon as you have cooked the almonds, put some hot water into the skillet, and remove the leftover of sugar. If it sticks to the skillet, you will have to work very hard to clean it.
How can you store caramelized almonds
Whether you make pralines or caramelized almonds store them at room temperature in an air-tight container or in a food plastic bag for 7-10 days.
Crunchy caramelized almonds
- 150 gr unpeeled organic almonds (or peanuts nuts, unsalted pistachio nuts, to your taste)
- 130 gr white caster sugar (do not use molasses)
- 40 gr water
- extra: a pinch of dark cocoa powder and one of cinnamon to taste
- First, line a baking sheet with parchment paper;
- Put the almonds into a (preferably) steel skillet, add sugar, and water. You should use a quite large low sided skillet;
- Cook over high medium heat stirring constantly with a wooden or melamine spoon;
- At the beginning the mixture will be very liquid and it will hardly stick to the peanuts. Do not worry, that’s ok. When it starts boiling, it will crystallize and it will coat the fruit;
- Low the heat and cook until the sugar gets amber;
- When the sugar starts melting, and gets shiny, remove from the heat; be very careful not burn the sugar;
- When the almonds gets amber (do not burn them, otherwise they will be sour), and the sugary coating has glazed, turn the mixture into the baking sheet. Spread the almonds carefully in a single layer to cool;
- When completely cool, divide them individually.