Monday, December 15, 2008

Spiced Sugar Almonds

While my family and my husband's family are getting traditional presents, I am also making a bunch of food-gifts...because its fun!  
Chai Spiced Almonds

The past two days I've been experimenting with sugared almonds.  If you've ever been to New York City (or maybe other cities too, I don't know), you have probably seen or at least smelled the "Nuts4Nuts" carts.  They are my favorite snack...ever.  Seriously, I love them.  I decided I would make my own, since I had no idea if the street cart version is vegan. 

The basic recipe is simple:
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 cup almonds

1.  Bring everything to boil in a pan.  
2.  Simmer mixture, stirring periodically with a wooden spoon.  

simmering

3.  When the sugar syrup starts to crystalize, remove from heat, and stir almonds constantly to coat.  
4.  Because of the nature of the solution, all the sugar will fall out, but not all of it will stick to the almonds.  So, you are going to put the pan back on the heat and stir, allowing the sugar that has fallen out to melt and stick to the almonds.

after removing from heat and allowing sugar to settle

5.  Remove from heat, separate any large chunks, and allow to cool.
  

Now, because I am a pain in the ass to myself, instead of just making one big batch, I made a few different versions:
  
Cinnamon Spice Almonds - before boiling add 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper and 1/4 tsp cinnamon

Chai Spiced Almonds - before boiling add 1/4 tsp ground ginger, 1/4 tsp cardamom, 1/8 tsp cloves, 1/8 tsp cinnamon, and 1/8 tsp nutmeg  
 
Orange Glazed Almonds - use 1/2 cup orange juice, and 3/4 cup water.  This didn't necessarily turn out the same as the first two.  It looked more like they were covered in caramel.  At first I was disappointed, and just put them out on the counter for my family...but then I ate them all.  They were actually really good.  If you want to try them, I don't have a picture (again, because I ate them all), but the directions were the same...the sugar just never really crystallizes, so once the sugar mixture is really thick, and everything is coated, lay the almonds out on a piece of waxed paper. 

If you are slightly masochistic, you may want to know the calorie count for these.  You're crazy.  Oh wait, that's just me?  Fine, whatever.  I only have it for the first two, just with the spice addition.  1 cup of almonds yields about 2 1/4 cups of sugared almonds (it is much less for the orange almonds, because not even close to all the sugar sticks, which is why I don't really have a way to figure out the nutrition info for them).  

1 serving = 1/4 cup 
Nutrition Information:  177.2 Calories;  8.0g Total Fat;  0.6g Saturated Fat;  0.0mg Cholesterol;  25.3g Carbohydrates;  1.9g Fiber;  3.4g Protein

I know that for the most part, I try to make healthy stuff, but its the holidays...and for the most part, I won't be eating it!  Plus, at least they have some protein.  By the way, my brother prefers these when they're warm and the nuts are still slightly soft.  I prefer to let them cool and dry, because then the nuts get crunchy again.

One other little Christmas related (for me) thing.  I was Christmas shopping in Express yesterday.  It is frustrating to me how much is made of sheep or bunny hair (not to mention that its itchy).  But I found myself in Express looking at a shirt that I really liked, but was made of 60% cotton and 40% modal.  What the hell is modal?  I wanted to know.  Immediately (I had a coupon, after all).  So I asked the salespeople, and no one knew.  So I called my dad.  If you ever encounter modal, you should feel pretty safe buying it.  It is a plant product, sort of similar to rayon.  Whew.  I bought two.  

Alright well, I'm not done with my Christmas gift making.  I doubt I will get to the next part tomorrow, but hopefully on Thursday!!  

      

13 comments:

  1. Oh I want some of these now! They would be perfect for those wintry days over here!

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  2. Oh my god, those sound dangerously good! Chai + almonds = Yum!

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  3. YUM!!!! Chai Almonds sound heavenly! =)

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  4. gina, every time i go to new york city, i get those nuts. they are honestly so addicting!!! i brought like 5 bags back with me when i left last time.

    and come to think of it, i honestly don't care if those nuts are vegan. haha they are just soo good!!! they are an exception.

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  5. those almonds sound interesting!

    and good to know about the modal...never heard of it!

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  6. I love inhaling the aroma of those nuts when I pass by street vendors! The chai spiced ones sound like they would be my favorite. I just made some homemade granola as presents, but these would be a great idea as well. Plus, I have a huge bag of almonds from Costco. If I run out of granola, I'm making these for sure.

    Never heard of modal either. Interesting.

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  7. Oooh, these look wonderful! I used to make nonvegan coated pecans for my dad that he loved. I can't wait to try your recipe. I just can't decide which flavor to make....

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  8. Diann, my mom makes non-vegan coated pecans every year that everyone loves! I actually had a recipe cut out for pecans that I scrapped because I didn't want her thinking I was trying to one-up her.

    Joanna, I'm glad someone else knows my nuts!! (That sounds....wrong). I actually haven't gotten them in a year or two because I have absolutely no self-restraint (this is obviously a recurring theme here...)

    Shelby, Hannah, Lovliebutterfly, just me, Heather, thanks for stopping in! Oh, and Heather, you must let me know if you try them...do you like almonds as much as you like almond butter??

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  9. Wow looks really good....would prob eat more than I should! hehe

    Thanks for stopping by and your kind comment.

    Have a good rest of the day...bundle up!

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  10. Aww, well , if you can, you should try makinga donation to this organization! They save animals from euthansia:]
    Oh wow, those nuts look terrific! I love nuts, especially sugar coated ones!

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  11. Chai spiced almonds sound so amazing. I'm so impressed that you came up with that recipe on your own. I would have been completely stumped as to how to get the sugar to stick to the almonds...

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  12. have to try them! and they are a perfect christmas gift=)

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  13. Thanks for Gina. You are doing good Job. i tried, its very very good.
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