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How to Spice Up Your Almonds
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Q. We recently were served at a bar (which I think was the Ritz-Carlton in San Francisco but can't really remember — we were, after all, drinking!), whole almonds in what seemed to be chili powder. These were served in lieu of the traditional roasted peanuts. Do you have a recipe for making these almonds?

A.  Like anything else, there are probably a number of recipes for spiced almonds. One version we came across online is from Matthew Kenney’s Mediterranean Cooking (Canada, UK):

Spread a pound of blanched almonds in single layer on a baking sheet and toast at 350° F (175°C) for 17 minutes, or until browned. While the nuts are cooling, mix 1/4-cup of sugar, a tablespoon of cinnamon, 1/4-teaspoon of sweet paprika, and a pinch of cloves (if you like cloves) in a small bowl. Season to taste with cayenne. When the nuts are cool, drizzle them with 2 tablespoons of honey and toss. Sprinkle the spice mixture on the nuts and toss them again until they are covered evenly. Put them back in the oven for 5 to 10 minutes, or until nuts are brown and shiny. Remove and let cool.

Martha Stewart has another method (for a crowd, and, considering the amount of hot oil involved, we recommend staying sober as you prepare this):

Poach 4 cups of blanched almonds in a large pot of boiling water for 1 minute. Remove them, shake off as much water as possible, and toss them immediately with a mixture of 4 cups of sugar, a teaspoon of kosher salt, 2 tablespoons paprika, a teaspoon of cayenne pepper, and a teaspoon of ground cumin. Afterwards, fill a saucepan or electric fryer to a depth of approximately 3 inches with peanut oil and heat to 340° F to 350°F (170°C to 175°C). Fry the nuts in the oil until they begin to turn golden brown; remove them with a strainer and toss a second time in the sugar and spices. Remove, shake off the excess, and let them cool on a wire rack. The nuts will turn crispy as they cool.

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