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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Sugar Almonds (Gebrannte Mandeln)

There are many things I associated with Advent/Christmas time growing up in Germany. But none more than the deliciously enticing smell of fresh “burnt” almonds walking through a Christkindlmarkt (German Christmas markets). They are actually quite easy to make at home, and presented in cute little cellophane or paper cone bags, they make lovely favors or hostess gifts around this time of year, too!

As many of you already know, my recipe was recently featured on the Tasty Kitchen Blog.
Since Natalie already did a great step by step post on this, I won’t bore you with a repetition!
I did however want to post the recipe here too.
  • ⅓ cups Water, Plus 2 Tablespoons
  • 1-⅓ cup Sugar, Divided
  • 1 teaspoon Cinnamon, Ground
  • 2 cups Raw Almonds
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
Use a heavy saucepan (NOT the nonstick kind) and a wooden spoon.
First add the water, 1 cup of sugar and the cinnamon and stir. Bring it to a boil over medium heat. Add the almonds to the mix, raise the temperature to high heat and stir CONSTANTLY until the water is boiled away.
The sugar will dry out a little but start to stick to the almonds. Keep stirring them around, so that the almonds don’t burn on the bottom of the pan.
Turn the heat under the pan to medium-low, to keep the sugar from browning too fast. Keep stirring until the almonds start having an even shiny coat.
Don’t be distracted by the heavenly aroma that is enveloping your kitchen—you need your full concentration on the task!
Now dump in the rest of your sugar. Keep stirring, and add your vanilla. At this point, I like to mention that if you have vanilla sugar or a powdered type of vanilla flavoring, do feel free to use that over the liquid kind. It tends to work better. If you do, mix it with the 1/3 of a cup of sugar you are using for the second lot of sugar.
At this point, there might be quite some noise ensuing from your pan. Some crackling and popping, but hopefully no snapping. It depends on how fresh your almonds were. Really fresh almonds will make a popping noise and the coat may start to crack. That’s the water in the almonds escaping. If the almonds are older, there won’t be as much of that!
Keep stirring until the almonds are fairly shiny, but still a bit lumpy. You don’t want them completely smooth. The best ones are the ones that are shiny in some areas with some delicious lumps of cinnamon sugar on other parts of the almond.
As soon as you see that happening, take them off the heat and transfer the almonds to a sheet of parchment paper.
Spread them apart as much as you can, but don’t worry about some of them sticking together initially. BE CAREFUL, however. These are extremely hot, so only use a spoon. These babies can really burn you!
While they are cooling down, keep on breaking them apart with your spoon(s) until they are all separated. Fair warning: these are totally divine when they are still ever-so-slightly warm. There, you’ve been warned!

{I made a triple batch tonight}
Once they are cooled, hide (ahem, I meant store) them in a dry, closed container. Theoretically, they keep for several weeks. I’ve never had an opportunity to test that theory.
I hope you’ll make them and enjoy them as much as we do!

Edited to add:

For more step by step instructions, please see the Tasty Kitchen Blog here or if you have any questions, I answered a lot of them here.

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  1. I'm so excited to find this recipe!! We lived in Germany for 8 years- we've been back home for 3 years now and those wonderful nuts are one of the things I miss most. I remember the first time we came across that wonderful aroma we honestly 'followed our nose' until we found what smelled so good. Thank you so much for posting this. I can hardly wait to try it. YUM

  2. Mmmmmm, those look so delicious. My mom does something similar with pecans, but those almonds look FAB! I'll take a pound... pretty please??

  3. Oh yum! So glad you posted this, thank you! I had a similar to Mama Peck - my Dad and I were walking and smelled them and I've loved them ever since. :)

    I've got a giveaway on my blog that ends tonight (http://path-less-traveled-market.blogspot.com/2010/11/free-money-yes-please.html) - I'd love it if you entered!

  4. mmmmmmmmm, shame I don't have any decent pans that are not non stick and I reckon this could ruin the non stick.
    Wonder if there's a way of doing something similar in the oven?

  5. @ Zoe: Yes, unless your non-stick pans can withstand more than 400 F, it is likely to ruin the non-stick coating.
    Unfortunately it won't work in the oven. The constant stirring and the high temps are vital to this working out and you can't do that in the oven :(

    I did make this year's batch in a non stick pan, but mine said that you could heat up to 600 F. It worked out great, even though the timing was a bit different.

  6. mmm! These smell SO good! It would make the house smell amazing!

  7. Dear Birgit,
    I was THRILLED to find your recipe for the Burnt Sugar Almonds. I live in Germany right now, but will be moving in the coming year. Those almonds are my favorite thing about the Christmas markets. I was also excited to see that you had several other German holiday recipes on here. THANK YOU!

  8. I tried this recipe tonight. I followed the directions, but mine look more sugary and not really shiny like I think they should be. Did I take them off the heat too soon after adding the 1/3 cup sugar? After adding the sugar, it got really sandy and hard to stir. I followed Natalie's advice (on the Tasty Kitchen blog), and took them off at that point. Still, it looks like Natalie's end product is not shiny like yours. Do you have any advice?

  9. YUM. These are going on my Pinterest board for Christmas 2011 gift ideas. :)


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Birgit Kerr