I really like homemade gifts, both for giving and for receiving. In this age of biggerbetterfastermore, if someone takes the time to actually make something for me, I'm genuinely touched. Those are the gifts--homemade orange-cranberry bread, knitted potholders--I tend to remember and treasure most.
If you need a gift for a teacher, hostess, colleague, neighbor, or anyone else who fits into this category, these sugar-roasted almonds are perfect. Not only are they super easy to make, but they're classy and a little bit different.
You can make a double batch, baking 2 pans at a time, which will give you nearly 3 quarts of nuts to give away. I like to put them in small mason jars with plaid flannel or something equally crafty-looking tied around the lid with a piece of twine and a tag. (See Pinterest for two billion fantastic ideas on how to package your homemade gifts.)
These are also great in a gift basket. Put the almonds in a small resealable plastic bag (I get mine at Michael's) and tuck them alongside your cookies, jams, quick breads, and whatnot. They travel well and don't melt, which makes them a great candidate to include in a gift package that will be mailed.
Of course, you don't have to make these only for the holidays, or for giving away. Sometimes I make them just to put in a bowl on the coffee table because I love my family and friends. Try this recipe with pecans or a combination of pecans, walnuts, and almonds and use the nuts to garnish cheesecakes, parfaits, and ice cream.
Pumpkin Spice Sugar-Roasted Almonds
Yield: About 11/2 quarts
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 egg white
- 1/2 teaspoon cold water
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 4 cups raw almonds
- Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. Prepare a rimmed half sheet baking pan by spreading with 1 tablespoon butter.
- In a small bowl, whisk together egg white and cold water until frothy. Whisk in vanilla extract.
- In a medium bowl, stir together sugars, salt, and spices.
- Place almonds in a large mixing bowl. Pour egg-white mixture over and toss with a spatula to coat. Sprinkle sugar mixture over egg-washed almonds; fold gently with spatula until the almonds are coated in sugar mixture.
- Pour sugared almonds out onto prepared baking sheet. Bake at 250 degrees F for 1 hour, stirring and turning with a spatula every 15 minutes.
- Let cool completely on pan. Store in air-tight container for up to 2 weeks.
- I like the nice buttery flavor you get by greasing the pan with butter. If you prefer, you can swap pan spray for the butter.