One of the evergreen treats I have had the joy of sneaking into my mouth or serving to guests are my mother-in-law’s caramelized almonds.
Mandorle caramelate are basically sugared almonds, but don’t let the simplicity of the idea – or the recipe – fool you. They are one of the real tests of who has Italian cooking in their veins the rest of us, including me.
Or, as my cousin would say every time he would accidently sink an impossible put in miniature golf on the Jersey shore, “It’s all in the wrist”.
Mandorle caramelate are are a close cousin to croccante and torrone but the main difference is that they do not form sheets of caramelized sugar and nuts that are then cut into bars before they cool too much. Sugar is melted until it becomes a dark, sweet-smelling liquid. Slightly roasted almonds are then added. The skins are kept to help give them their slightly auburn coloring of the finished treat.
They are left to simmer until the sugar begins to crystalized, then, when she senses it’s the right moment she starts stirring them and, when she knows it’s time, pours them over a cool, usually marble, surface so that they spread out and don’t stick together as they cool.
They are served them to guests at Christmas as well as Ferragosto, or anytime that it good to host friends, relatives or anyone who gets invited over.