A delightful crunchy snack to nibble on. These almonds are a really easy snack idea for the times you need some instant comfort. They also make the most wonderful edible gift idea!
I may live elsewhere for a while already, but in the winter time especially I miss the coziness of Tallinn in Estonia, the city I grew up in. The medieval old town is so beautiful and makes a wonderful background for bright Christmas lights and sparkly holiday decorations. If you’re looking for a real magical fairy-tale-like Christmas town, this is it (in my completely objective opinion).
The one thing I did every winter while walking around on the narrow cobbled streets is buy a warm cone of spicy caramel almonds. Right next to the Town hall (that dates from the 13th century!) there is a restaurant Olde Hansa that specializes in authentic medieval food. They have a wooden cart on the street besides their terrace where waiters and waitresses dressed in real medieval clothes have prepared these almonds and offered tastings to the passers-by for as long as I can remember.
I have tried a few different techniques to try and recreate these almonds on my own, but never really succeeded. They were always too toasted or the sugary coating too candy-like or not crunchy enough or too tough. Well, something was always off. But now! This version is perfection! Exactly the taste and texture I remember and miss from my winter-wonderlandy hometown.
Enjoy this wonderful holiday snack and the smell of caramel and spices that will fill up your house. On the homepage of the Olde Hansa restaurant they point out a medieval saying “Five almonds a day keeps you from drunkenness and severe hunger”. I do hope it is true, that would give me an excellent excuse to nibble on these, but I dare you to stop at five – I have yet to succeed 😛
200 g (1,5 cups) almonds
120 g (1cup & 2 tbsp) brown sugar
3 tbsp cinnamon
1 tbsp allspice
1 tbsp ground ginger
2/3 tsp ground black pepper
1 tbsp vanilla sugar
Pour almonds on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Roast at 180C (350F) for 5 minutes. It is essential to not let them cook for too long.
Mix together the sugar and the spices. Heat in thick-bottomed pot until the sugar starts to dissolve. Do not let it become caramel! Pour in the roasted almonds and mix vigorously. Spread everything on the baking sheet to cool down.
The melted sugar acts as glue that keeps the not-yet-melted spicy sugar on the almonds. So you need to catch the moment where there is already enough « glue » and still enough of the crunchy sugar mixture…
When the almonds are cooled down break apart any bigger chunks and serve next to a hot cup of tea or a glass of mulled wine.
PS. The almonds store really well and are easy to pack which makes them a perfect edible gift for anyone you want to show you appreciate them being in your life: friends and family, children’s teachers, neighbors, colleagues.