Signed and Sealed Part 1- Spicy Salty Caramel Almonds

Signed and sealed time!  Mailed treats time!  Decorating labels with gold tape and mason jars so I can put all of that Pinterest time to good use…time!  It’s the best time of the month, and as you can see, I’m excited.
It’s also called Part 1 because of that jar up there that says, very plainly and clearly so that there can be no mistake, “THIS IS DOG FOOD.”  More on those treats to come.  I’ll give you a bit longer to wonder just how much of an animal freak I am.

This month, which was last month, the treat went to my good friend and college roommate Anna and her little Westie, Gus.  Some of my favorite, favorite moments have been with Anna.  She’s all laughs and kindness and sincerity.  While I have to make New Year’s resolutions to be a better friend, Anna just is a good friend.  She calls, texts, and emails just to catch up.  She gives me updates on her life because she knows, correctly, that I want to know.  She’s a great friend and deserves lots and lots of treats in the mail, not just this one.

Our senior year she came home with a tiny little ball of white named Gus, who I fell madly in love with.  Gus learned how to be a dog from my cat, Tuna.  Tuna climbed on the back of couches, Gus climbed on the back of couches.  Tuna put his face through the blinds to look out the windows, Gus put his considerably furrier and larger face through the blinds to look out the windows.  He waited patiently every morning for Tuna to come out of my room then chased him around the rug for a good 5 minutes every single morning.  Tuna was unimpressed.  Gus is a character, for sure, and if Anna gets a treat, Gus gets one too!

I’m admittedly obsessed with anything that contains the words salted and caramel.  This month I decided to make some salted caramel almonds but spice them up a little with, well, spice.  Mostly sweet, slightly salty, with just a hint of spice at the end–these were crunchy and perfect.

Let’s caramel some almonds!

Gather ingredients: butter, brown sugar, light corn syrup, vanilla extract, baking soda, salt and cayenne pepper.  And almonds, obviously.

Start by spreading 2 cups of unsalted almonds on a baking dish.  Roast them at 350 degrees for 15 minutes, or until deeply fragrant.
When those have been roasting for 10 minutes, start the caramel sauce.  In a medium sauce pan, add 1 stick of butter, 1 cup of brown sugar, and some light corn syrup.  Melt those all together over low heat and let boil gently for 5 minutes.

After 5 minutes, remove the mixture from the heat and add vanilla, a pinch of cayenne, and 1/4 teaspoon baking powder.  This will cause the mixture to bubble pretty violently, but just keep stirring and it will calm down.  Pour the roasted almonds in the caramel and stir until they are completely coated.
Meanwhile, prepare a baking sheet by lining it with foil.  Pour the caramel almonds in a single layer on the baking sheet.
Lower the oven heat to 250 and bake the almonds for 15 minutes, then remove and stir, and bake for 15  minutes more.  The mixture will bubble up again because of the baking soda, but that’s what makes the caramel harden later.  It’s important.
Once the almonds have baked for 30 minutes, lay some parchment paper out and pour the almonds over, separating them as much as possible.
Salt them while they are still warm, then let them completely cool until they are very crunchy.
When they are cool, break them up.  I chose to leave a some in clumps and some as single almonds, but you can do as you wish.  I’m not the boss of you.
Now they’re ready to store.  Put them in an air-tight container and snack away.  Because this is {Signed and Sealed} I, of course, got crafty with my mason jars.
I made labels out of card stock, felt tip pen, and washi tape, then I tied them around the jars with twine.
Into a box they went bound for Texas.  I had an extra set so I also sent some to my brother and his wife in Ohio because they have 2 of my favorite puppies ever and I also like them too.

The almonds, though, the almonds.  They’re crunchy and have this wonderfully nutty roasted flavor.  The caramel is sweet but tempered by the slight salty touch and subtle spice.  The salt is necessary because the caramel would be too sweet without it.  However, the spice isn’t necessary.  But please don’t be afraid of the spice, it’s very subtle and really only nudges you at the end.  It’s great contrast.  Don’t skip it.
I’ll warn you though, you’ll want to give these away.  Maybe to a friend with a cute scruffy white dog!  Or to a neighbor.  I say this because while these were cooling I snuck so many nibbles I called it lunch instead of the sensible salad I had planned.
However, the best part about these almonds is that I got to send them to a sweet friend.  The picture she sent me made my whole day.  You’ll hear more about that later.

If you want a sweet treat for yourself or to send to someone who’s on your mind, this is it.

Spicy Salty Caramel Almonds (Adapted from)

Ingredients

  • 2 cups unsalted almonds
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more for sprinkling later
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line baking sheet with foil and set aside.
  2. Spread almonds on baking sheet in single layer.  Roast for 15 minutes.  When done, set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, combine butter, brown sugar, and corn syrup until melted over medium low heat.  Cook, stirring constantly, boiling gently, for 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and add vanilla, 1/2 teaspoon salt, cayenne pepper, and baking soda.  The mixture will bubble up for a second, this is normal.
  4. Add roasted almonds and stir to coat.  Reduce oven heat to 250 and spread caramel almonds on the prepared baking sheet in an even layer.  Bake for 30 minutes, removing and stirring once at the 15 minute mark.
  5. When almonds are done, spread parchment paper out and add almonds in a single layer.  Let cool completely, until completely hard.  Break almonds into clumps and single almonds, or any combination you would like.
  6. Store in an air tight container for up to a month!

Enjoy!

 

Continue Reading →