Walking in SoHo in New York City does two things for me: makes me want to purchase clothes that I don't need, which, in turn, makes me want to buy the roasted nuts sold from vendors on just about every corner. Instead of dropping a few hundred dollars on apparel, I drop a few bucks on a warm paper bag of freshly roasted almonds, coated in a perfect caramel shell.
It's the scent of the burnt sugar and toasted nuts, strong enough to mask the smell of car exhaust, that wafts from these little carts. This scent also compels me to make large batches of caramelized almonds as often as possible (and not to cover harsh smells in my kitchen, but probably to prevent myself from online purchases).
I have made several different versions, some more involved than others. But, I always seem to settle on the same recipe as my favorite: whole toasted almonds coated in a thin layer of sandy cinnamon-sugar, a good-quality semisweet chocolate and dark cocoa powder. As soon as they're done, I find myself eating them by the handful.
And no matter how much will power you have, you will, too.
- 1 1/2 cups whole almonds
- 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 4 ounces semisweet chocolate
- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
Preheat oven to 325°F and toast almonds on a baking sheet for approximately 6 to 8 minutes.
In a medium saucepan, cook the warm almonds, sugar, water, salt and cinnamon over medium heat until the almonds begin to have a dry and sandy sugar coating. Be sure to stir the almonds constantly to prevent them from caramelizing.<
Spread the sugar-coated almonds onto a baking sheet and place in the refrigerator to cool, approximately 20 minutes.
While the almonds are cooling, melt the chocolate over a double boiler.
Transfer the cooled almonds to a large mixing bowl and add the melted chocolate. Gently stir until completely coated with chocolate, then spread onto a baking sheet.
Place the chocolate-covered almonds in the refrigerator to set, approximately 20 to 30 minutes.
Once the chocolate coating has hardened, transfer the almonds to a large mixing bowl and add the cocoa powder. Gently toss the nuts until well coated. Store in the refrigerator or a very cool, dry place until ready to serve.