Monday, May 4, 2009

Whiskey and Maple Candied Almonds with Cardamom

The candied nuts from the prior recipe resulted in a request to change the recipe. Since I love a challenge, I jumped at the chance to try something different. My friend Reiko wanted a way to use up some almonds, and wanted to incorporate maple syrup in the recipe. Since this sounded like a great idea to me I decided to give it a try. The day I made the recipe was a rainy humid day in Baltimore which is not conducive to candy making. I had no idea how the recipe would turn out, but that would never stop me. The recipe below is the result of my kitchen experiment:

Whiskey and Maple Candied Almonds with Cardamom


1 pound almonds
1 tablespoon of salt
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup whiskey
½ cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon of almond extract
½ teaspoon of ground cardamom


In a medium bowl, soak nuts in enough water to cover; stir in salt. Allow nuts to stand for 15 minutes then drain completely.

Bring enough water to cover nuts to a boil; drop in nuts and reduce heat. Simmer for 10-15 minutes or until skins are loose. Drain nuts and rinse under cold water until you can handle them. Pinch the nut between your fingers to loosen the skin. Remove the skins from all the nuts. You have just blanched your own almonds.

Combine sugar, whiskey, maple syrup and the extract in a medium saucepan, stirring well to dissolve sugar. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and add nuts. Simmer on low heat for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to stand for 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

After 15 minutes, drain the excess syrup from nuts if there is any. Line a baking sheet with oiled parchment paper or a silicone baking sheet. Spread nuts evenly on baking sheet and sprinkle with cardamom. Bake in preheated oven until nuts are dry and crisp and the sugar has caramelized, this will take about 15 minutes. Check the nuts every 5 minutes since maple syrup will burn quickly. When the sugar has dried remove the nuts from the oven and allow them to cool on the baking sheet.

Thoroughly cooled nuts can be stored in a jar in the refrigerator for several weeks.

Comments regarding the test:

The texture of these nuts was completely different from the first version. These nuts had a pebbly texture that wasn’t the slightest bit glassy like most sugar coatings. This coating was closer in texture to the interior of a Butterfinger candy bar. Surprisingly these nuts were a hit at cooking class disappearing in less than 30 minutes.

According to Harold McGee’s book “On Food and Cooking” there appear to be a few changes to this recipe that caused the change in texture. The elimination of the corn syrup makes it easier for sugar crystals to form. It may have been that the syrup reached a higher temperature than the first batch. There is still the issue of humidity and the impact it had on the process. I don’t actually know why the texture is so different from the first batch. I plan to make the nuts again under more controlled conditions to see if I can replicate the texture since it was so popular with my testers.

1 comment:

  1. These are addictive. There aren't too sweet, a slight whiskey aroma and a hint of cardamom. You keep going back to try to figure out the flavors.


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