Pre-Christmas snow transforms the already enchanting German Weihnachtsmaerkte, Christmas Markets, which for the four weeks of Advent take place in the historic hearts of the country's cities, towns and villages.
And to warm the resulting cold fingers and hands Christmas market visitors consume millions of liters of hot Gluehwein, hundreds of thousands of sausages, and tons of roast chestnuts and Gebrannte Mandeln, Caramelized Sugar Coated Almonds.
Served in small paper cones Gebrannte Mandeln are a favorite treat at German festivals and fairs through out the year, but especially in the autumn and winter, and here are two recipes. Homemade caramelized almonds, simple to make and tasting just as they would if they had been bought from a snow covered wooden chalet in a German Weihnachstmarkt.
Recipe 1 - Takes 15 to 20 minutes
Caramelized Sugar Coated Almonds with Cinnamon
Gebrannte Mandeln mit Zimt
200 g whole almonds, shelled and with or without skins removed
200 g fine sugar
100 ml water
1 pkt vanilla sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (can adjust +/- after making your first batch)
75 g cinnamon flavored fine sugar (optional)
1 Place the sugar, vanilla sugar, water and cinnamon into a stainless steel pan. (Heavy bottomed preferably and not a Teflon type pan because the mixture will scratch the surface)
2 Combine thoroughly and without stirring bring to the boil over a medium heat.
3 Add the almonds and increase the heat while stirring continuously, with heat resistant spoon, while bringing the mixture back to boiling temperature and until the liquid is absorbed and the sugar looks "dry" with a sandy texture.
4 Return the temperature to a medium heat, stirring until the sugar begins to melt and starts to caramelize, coating all the almonds and giving them a shiny glaze.
They can be taken out at this stage in which case go immediately to stage 5, but the sugar coating is hot so take care, however an alternative is to add a second sugar coating and make a thicker "lumpy" surface.
4b Add the 75 g of cinnamon flavored sugar to the almonds and continue to stir making sure nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan, as the sugar melts and adds a further shiny but lumpy coat to the almonds. There might be some crackling sounds this is the water content of the almonds escaping.
5 When the almonds are covered with the caramel turn them out onto a baking sheet.
6 Separate them quickly and completely with two forks, not with fingers, and allow to cool.
Sugar Coated Almonds
200 g whole almonds shelled and with or without skins removed
200 g fine sugar
125 ml water
1 pkt vanilla sugar
75 g vanilla or cinnamon flavored fine sugar (optional)
1 Place the almonds, sugar and water into a stainless steel pan, heavy bottomed preferably and not a Teflon type pan because the mixture will scratch the surface, and using medium heat bring to the boil.
2 Continue boiling until no water remains and the sugar has a dry sandy texture.
3 Add vanilla sugar and stir, with heat resistant spoon, until thoroughly distributed.
4 Continue stirring over medium heat until the sugar mixture begins to stick to the almonds, giving them a glazed surface. This normally takes a further two to three minutes.
They can be taken out at this stage in which case go immediately to stage 5, the sugar coating is hot so handle carefully, however a second sugar coating can now be added to make a thicker lumpy surface.
4b Add 75 g of vanilla or cinnamon flavored sugar to the almonds continuing to stir while making sure nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan. The sugar will melt and add a 'lumpy' coat to the almonds. Any crackling sounds are just the water content escaping from the almonds.
5 Turn out onto a baking sheet or baking paper, do not touch with fingers, separate quickly with two forks and allow to cool.
Delicious, both while still warm, but not hot, as well as when cooled and crunchy. And definitely a calorie bomb but worth it, while wrapped in cellophane they make great little gifts or decorations for the Christmas tree.
Almonds are the most popular candied nuts but the recipe can also be used with the same quantity of Walnuts, Hazelnuts or Cashews, and after making the first batch the flavoring can be adjusted to your own taste with more, or less, cinnamon or with additional vanilla from vanilla pod seeds or vanilla sugar.
Have fun and
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Photo Caramelized Almonds, Gebrannte Mandeln, courtesy Mattes via de.Wikipedia