Saturday, September 28, 2013

Gebrannte Mandeln – Candied Almonds

Another kind friend, let’s call him Jesse, allowed me to feature him and one of his favorite recipes on my blog. He even let me use his fancy camera. A couple of years ago he spent December in Erlangen, Germany doing research. Erlangen is located in Bavaria and has about 24,000 students attending the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg.

Before arriving in Erlangen, he was a little downhearted about missing the Christmas holiday in America. He didn’t know that since the late Middle Ages many German towns have a Weihnachtsmarkt, or Christmas market, during the holidays. The sell food and Christmas ornaments, among other things. He told me that Germans know how to do Christmas.

He said that at the markets the air is crisp, there is snow on the ground, and the sweet smell of Gebrannte Mandeln, or candied almond, wafts through the air. It sounds pretty picturesque. The candied almond vendors have what he described as a mini cement mixer they use to evenly heat and coat the almonds with sugar.

He spoke with one vendor and asked how to make them, and he has been making them regularly since that time. Jesse makes them for the holidays, especially Christmas, and as a snack during road trips. He said the vendors in Germany sell candied almonds in rolled paper cones, which would make an excellent Christmas gift. The ingredient quantities came from an online recipe.

The ingredients are 1 3/4 cups raw, whole almonds, 3/4 cup and 1/3 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1/3 cup water, and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. We also used a saucepan that was NOT non-stick and a wooden spoon.

These two pieces of cooking equipment are essential. Jesse had to stir the almonds and sugar on high and medium heat for a long time. A wooden spoon does not conduct heat, so he didn’t burn his hand with a hot metal spoon. We avoided a non-stick pan because at high temperatures non-stick coatings can break down.

He added ¾ cup sugar, water, vanilla, and cinnamon to a saucepan over high heat. Stirring constantly, he heated the sugary mixture to a fast boil.

Once it was boiling, he added the almonds. He stirred until the water had evaporated and the sugar was dry.

Doesn't that look amazing! I would have been tempted to sample at this point, if the boiling, molten syrup wouldn't have burned by face off.

You can see it is drying up at this point, but there is still some water that hasn't evaporated.

The sugar is this picture has dried up.

Once the water had evaporated, and the sugar was dry, Jesse moved the saucepan to a burner set on medium heat.

He stirred until the sugar had almost completed melted, and the almonds were coated with a shiny layer.  This is not for the weak limbed.  I don’t know this from personal experience because I had to fulfill the important role of photographer.  Way to take one for the team Jesse! 

Before all the sugar had completely melted, he added the remaining 1/3 cup of sugar. Of course, he had to keep on stirring.

The sugar melts and coats the almonds. He removed the pan from the heat when the sugar was melted. The sugar coating was a little bumpy but glossy.

He poured the coated almonds on a cookie sheet with sides. For a few minutes he used a spoon to separate the sticky hot almonds from one another so they didn’t cool I in a sheet of candied almond, though that sounds pretty great too.

He recommends that you wait until they are completely cooled. The warm almonds are soft on the inside, which isn’t the most appealing texture for an almond.

These are superb! Not only do they taste amazing, but they smell incredible too. As soon as the cinnamon and sugar started to heat up, I began to salivate. I hope his house smelled like sugared almonds for weeks. Jesse explained that they a long shelf life because the almonds are encased in a coating of sugar.


Patrick Bales said...

Wow this sounds amazing! You did forget to mention at what point you added the water. I'm assuming it was at the same time as when you added sugar the first time.

Paule Valery Joseph said...

So awesome to know super talented people! This looks legit! I wish I can sample it :)

laura said...

Patrick, your right! You add it in with the sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon. I'll need to make that correction on the post.

laura said...

Thanks Paule!