I am a HUGE fan of Smitten Kitchen. My husband is a HUGE fan of chocolate covered almonds with a hint of salt. When I saw that Smitten Kitchen had a recipe for these, I of course had no choice but to make them. The process takes a bit of time and effort, but is pretty straight forward.
Recipe from Smitten Kitchen; my notes are in italics and the pictures are mine
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 1/2 cup whole almonds
- 1/2 teaspoon flaky salt
- 12 ounces AKA 1 bag (SK calls for 8 ounces, but I always think more chocolate is better) semi- or bittersweet chocolate, chopped, or 1 1/3 cups chocolate chips
- Approximately 1/2 cup cocoa powder, sanding or coarse sugar or sprinkles to coat (This felt like way too much for me – I had a lot left over. I think you could start with 1/4 cup and see how it goes).
To coat almonds in caramel: Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Set aside. Have potholders handy, either on your hands or close by; you don’t want your skin anywhere near melted sugar. Agree!
In a heavy-bottomed 3 to 4-quart saucepan, bring sugar and water to a simmer. Add almonds and stir to coat them in the syrup.
Very brief instructions: You are going to simmer the almonds in the sugar syrup over medium heat until it caramelizes. (Just keep stirring. When you think it might be done, it’s not. It takes awhile, but once you get through the bubbly phase, you can tell the extra time is worth it.)
Stir in salt and spread almonds in a single layer on prepared sheet, separating them as much as possible. (Another thought – I may try to make the caramel separately and then pour it over the almonds to see if it preserves their crunchiness. This method made them a bit soft – not too soft, but definitely a difference from the typical almond experience.)
Set in freezer — or, outside, if it’s really cold — for a few minutes until cold and hard. This will take all of 5 minutes in the freezer. Break caramel into individual nuts; don’t worry about rough edges. (I used the fridge as my freezer was full. I therefore waited longer – maybe 15 minutes or so.)
You can go ahead and use this parchment or baking mat-covered tray again. Place cocoa, sugars, sprinkles and any other coatings in individual bowls. Have a few forks around to help roll the almonds through it.
To coat caramelized almonds in chocolate: Melt chocolate 3/4 of the way in a large bowl, then stir to let it melt the rest of the way using the residual heat in the bowl. (Again, I used more chocolate. I also recommend using a large, shallow bowl if possible or pouring the almonds in in small batches. The almond surface area to melted chocolate ratio is key to getting a good coating.)
Pour caramel-coating almonds into melted chocolate and stir several times to coat evenly. Use forks to pluck almonds one by one out of chocolate bowl and drop into coating of choice. Roll almonds until coated and spread out to set on prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining almonds. (I found this a little cumbersome and ended up dumping small amounts of cocoa on the sheet of chocolate drenched almonds and rolling them all around.)
Once again, you can set these quickly in the freezer (or outside, on a very cold day), this time give it 10 to 15 minutes. (Again, I used the fridge, and waited longer).
My Final Thoughts
Interesting note: my husband and I liked these MUCH better the next day. There’s something about letting flavors settle overnight that really makes an impact. I’ve found this with cakes so many times, but never expected it to apply here too!
These would make a great gift – hostess, holiday, potluck, etc. They could also be used to decorate cakes. Of course, eating them by the handful is always an option (and the preferred one). Great frozen too (but what isn’t?).
Have you made anything similar before? If so, how did it turn out? Let me know!