Recipe, Gift Guides

chocolate caramel crunch almonds

Mostly because I have little interest in telling you how to part with your hard-earned money, this isn’t a gift guide. However, ahem, I do purchase a few kitchen-related items each year and thought I’d mention some of the standouts from 2016. [Here’s 2015’s list, all still in heavy rotation.] Most are remarkably basic, either because I had necessities to replace (coughclumsy) but a lot are simple just because I’m incredibly stubborn and it really has taken me this long to buy a second set of measuring cups and spoons, some aprons and a coffee-making apparatus. Not all of these may pack up well in boxes with ribbon — well, except that deliciousness at the end, of course — but I can promise you that they’re getting a lot of mileage in a heavy-use kitchen, and as always, I bought them myself.

Kitchen Things I’ve Bought That I Loved, 2016 Edition

coffee maker!
2016: the year i learned to make coffee

1. Coffee Maker

I don’t make coffee. My list of excuses is miles long — doesn’t ever taste right, don’t have space for anything that plugs in, my french press always left me a puddle of sludge, please don’t make me buy a pour-over kettle too, etc. — but mostly it came down to the fact that because I work from home my morning coffee stop after school drop-off is often the social highlight of my workday as well as a great time to get meetings in, plus running errands with a hot cup off coffee in your hands on a cold day makes errands many times more enjoyable. But, this became increasingly a drag and I’m so glad I came around. This coffee maker is perfect for me — it’s tiny, requires only a stovetop and is rugged — and it took me very little time to become a person who preferred my own homemade coffee to that I can buy — you get it exactly the way you like it, every time. Plus, I make a little every time I make coffee and it’s nice to know I’m wasting much less money these days.

[When I posted a Snap of this a couple months ago, I got many requests for a tutorial. Let me know if there’s interest and I can write it up. I followed many online and was still baffled about how to make half a pot, which is what I need most days, when I am solo. Update: Here’s your tutorial!]

Bialetti Espresso Maker, 6-Cup / Illy Medium Roast

new instantly adored silverware

2. New, Instantly Adored Silverware

We looked for new silverware for years before finding what we were looking for at a good price and ended up feeling like we won the lottery. The knives actually cut! The teaspoon is quite tiny and thus perfect for a cup of tea or coffee, or for feeding babies. The tablespoon is perfect for soup, so scoopy! Yes, I just described a spoon as “so scoopy” in case you’re wondering why nobody hires me to write ad copy. The handles are slim, the flatware has weight but isn’t heavy. It feels classic to us, which was important as we’d prefer not to have to replace for a very long time if ever. We bought three sets but it’s already led us to inviting more than 16 people over here twice, so maybe it’s safer to just buy two.

Villeroy & Boch Piemont

a braiser

3. Braiser, aka a Squat Dutch Oven

Do you have someone who wants to buy you a fancy kitchen gift? Do you have a giant gift certificate for a kitchen supply? You should totally buy a Dutch oven. (I vote for a 5 quart for regular use and a 7/8 quart for big parties, but mostly the 5.) However, should you already have a Dutch oven or if you find it to be more voluminous or heavy than you need for it needs to be for weeknight, I am not sure I use a pot more right now than I do this 4-quart braiser, which is kind of like a shorter, squat Dutch oven. I often use it on the stovetop to saute ingredients and then transfer it to the oven for pasta bakes like this and this. It’s also great for roast chicken in parts as well as smaller quantities of soup (I made mushroom barley in it this week when my bigger pot was being held hostage by stock.) Oh, and it’s dishwasher safe (cast-iron but enameled) which totally counts around here. Mine is from Staub, but what’s key here to me is the size and use, not brand.

Staub 4-Quart Braiser on Amazon / Williams-Sonoma (on sale!) / Zwilling Online

replacement canisters after a clumsy year

4. Canning Jar Canisters

I have had these for ages but due to an extra clumsy year, I got to buy more! Still, though, they’re minimalist workhorses. I keep sugar, all-purpose flour and other canister-sized dry goods in them; I always know how much I have left (sadly does not always translate to remembering to buy refills when at stores, but they’re jars, not miracles). I love that they’re airtight with gasket lids and dishwasher safe. They’re a little tight for a 5-pound bag of flour — it just makes it with a little shimmying — but are otherwise perfect and the squared shape means they fit more tightly together in the cabinet. I had no trouble using 6 but if that’s too many for you, I suggest finding a friend to split the order with. Everyone has to put their stuff in something, right?

Borgonovo 145-ounce Jars on Amazon / Walmart / and more

sorta menu board

5. Menu Planning Board

I am not, sadly, not much of a planner. I don’t do a big batch of prep cooking on Sundays although I know I should. But this board is pushing me in the right direction. I find it impossible with it in front of me to not to make something of a plan, even if it’s just reminding myself we have squash to use up or too much eggs, or that my son requested burgers this week. I’m sure there are prettier options out there, but this basic wipe-off board is doing the trick for us.

8 1/2 x 11-inch Wipe-Off Board

6. Aprons

While I’m confessing things: I only began wearing aprons to cook in the last year. I usually just wore clothes I didn’t care about while so I hope you’re sitting down when I drop this earth-shattering knowledge bomb: Whoa, it turns out aprons really make life easier. My current rotation is fittingly high and low: a monogrammable workhorse (mine says DEBOTCHKA) I bought from Williams-Sonoma 10 years ago that’s held up insanely well (still black, even, although the caveat is that it only went into heavy rotation this year); a Game of Thrones geek one my husband got me when I was super-pregnant (it still closed!) and my most recent purchase, a bit more of an investment but I can’t help it, I’m a sucker for stretchy chambray.

[Note: I bought the regular one but if you or someone you know, ahem, is a bit busty, I spoke to the company and they recommended their cross-back aprons for a better fit. I will know this for next time.]

Mother Of Dragons / Williams-Sonoma / Hedley & Bennett

some new cookbooks

7. Some New Cookbooks To Escape Into

Last year’s cookbooks were tuned exclusively to the theme of wanderlust. This year, there’s some wanderlust and a lot of comfort as well as reminders of all the small victories and triumphs worth celebrating. It’s a happy batch and I’m enjoying them immensely.

How To Celebrate Everything / Classic German Baking / Dorie’s Cookies / Cuba! / Taste of Persia / Everything I Want To Eat / Flavorwalla / Small Victories

some small stuff

8. A Few Small Things

The serrated peeler is something a commenter told me about years ago; it’s perfect for peeling thin-skinned stuff like tomatoes and peaches. Yes, I know you can drop them in boiling water for 10 seconds and slip the skins off but that’s a lot of work for 1 or 2. This is not. I don’t know where my old one went but I replaced it this year.

The dough whisk is great for mixing thick, heavy doughs — like for bread! I have a stand mixer with a dough hook but I’m too lazy to drag it out most of the time for just a pizza dough or smaller project.

Finally, I decided after 10+ years of cooking and two cookbooks that I was finally allowed to buy a second set of measuring cups and spoons. (These are my old ones, which I’ve been very happy with.) Cook’s Illustrated informed me that these are the most accurate. I like that the narrower spoons fit more easily into small jars.

Messermeister Serrated Peeler / Tovolo Dough Whisk / Amco Measuring Cups / Cuisipro Measuring Spoons

tiny grill (don't tell anyone)

9. One Tiny Grill

This spring, we decided we’d had enough of having an outdoor space and no fire-breathing apparatus to exercise our America-given right to burn food on in the summer months and brought home the tiniest, safest and most docile grill ever manufactured, basically the fluffy kitten of the barbecue landscape. Sure, I’d like a big green egg or even something that uses briquettes one, but as for something to hold us over until then, this has been surprisingly wonderful. Even the most unexciting dinner — sausages, chicken cutlets, a heap of zucchini to use up — tastes 100% more exciting and summery when it’s cooked outside.

Tiny Weber Grill

what you'll need
a sprinkle situation

10. A Lot of Sprinkles

Okay, maybe not everything I bought were “essentials.” What do you do when the baking supply store is out of the rainbow sprinkles you like and only have dreadful combinations that lack blues and greens or, worse, include brown? Well, you get what you can and move on. That’s not what happened to me, though, and though I do not in any way advise this madness, I instead bought a container of red, orange, yellow, light green, dark green, blue, purple and white and made my own, and I regret nothing. (My mix, by the way, 1 part of each to 2 parts white; the white makes all the colors pop and was surprisingly essential.) I also upgraded my chocolate sprinkles this year from brown-colored wax, basically, to actual chocolate and now we’re ruined especially if my son figures out that other kids get to eat chocolate-sprinkled buttered toast for breakfast.

Various Sprinkles / Real Chocolate Sprinkles

chocolate caramel crunch almonds

But all of this is just burying the lede, seriously, because this right here is my new favorite homemade candy for gifting or eating, possibly forever. You are not going to believe how easy these are to make, yes, even with a step that involves making caramel. But not the difficult kind! No thermometer is required. The entire sum of ingredients here is sugar, water, almonds, salt, chocolate (chips are fine) and cocoa, sprinkles or sanding sugar to finish.

almonds in sugar syrupsugar syrup gets sandysugar melts into caramelsetting the caramelcrunched with caramelcoating in melted chocolate

I set out to make a grown-up candy, the kind that hits the spot at say 4 p.m., keeps almost indefinitely and requires no special machinery. This is loosely inspired by those chocolate-covered almonds at Trader Joes. My favorite, however, are the ones with the caramel crunch underneath but I rarely see them and even when I do, the caramel never has any salt, much to my disappointment because the salty-sweet crunch against dark chocolate and toasty almonds is, to me, essential.

into the coocainto the sanding sugarwith sanding sugarwith cocoa

Chocolate Caramel Crunch Almonds

  • Servings: Makes about 2 cups
  • Print

My favorite thing about this recipe is that it frees me from my candy-making pet peeve: having to choose between tempering chocolate (never fun) or chocolate coatings that are never firm and shiny to the touch. By finishing the chocolate in sugar or sprinkles, you get a firm, crunchy coating with no candy-making acrobatics.

My original plan was to coat these all in cocoa powder, truffle-style. I had assumed that once the chocolate was set, I could shake the cocoa-coated almonds in a sifter or mesh sieve until the excess cocoa had shaken off. It wasn’t a resounding success; mine still felt dusty to the touch in the end and as these are really not very sweet — just a thin, thin shell of caramel and chocolate — I wanted more sugar outside.

My favorite coating was sanding sugar because the crunch is ideal here, even more ideal than classic sprinkles, which have less crunch.

Roasted almonds are just fine here so long as they’re not very dark already. (It’s very rare to buy roasted almonds that are.)

  • 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (120 grams) water
  • 1 1/2 cup (205 grams or 7 1/4 ounces) whole almonds
  • 1/2 teaspoon flaky salt
  • 8 ounces (225 grams) semi- or bittersweet chocolate, chopped, or 1 1/3 cups chocolate chips
  • Approximately 1/2 cup cocoa powder, sanding or coarse sugar or sprinkles to coat

To coat almonds in caramel: Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Set aside. Have potholders handy, either on your hands or close by; you don’t want your skin anywhere near melted sugar.

In a heavy-bottomed 3 to 4-quart saucepan, bring sugar and water to a simmer. Add almonds and stir to coat them in the syrup.

Very brief instructions: You are going to simmer the almonds in the sugar syrup over medium heat until it caramelizes.

Detailed instructions/descriptions: As the water evaporates in the sugar syrup, it will become thicker and soap-like bubbles will form. Once the liquid has fully evaporated, it will become sandy and you will think something has gone wrong; it has not. Continue stirring and the sandiness will dissolve into a bronzed but clear liquid; this is the caramel. At this point, you can remove the pan from the heat and the residual heat in the pot should be enough to finish melting the sugar again as you continue stirring. Should it not be melting, however, just put it back over the flame for 20 to 30 seconds while you stir. Repeat as needed. In a couple minutes, the melted sugar will coat the almonds completely.

Stir in salt and spread almonds in a single layer on prepared sheet, separating them as much as possible.

Set in freezer — or, outside, if it’s really cold — for a few minutes until cold and hard. This will take all of 5 minutes in the freezer. Break caramel into individual nuts; don’t worry about rough edges.

You can go ahead and use this parchment or baking mat-covered tray again. Place cocoa, sugars, sprinkles and any other coatings in individual bowls. Have a few forks around to help roll the almonds through it.

To coat caramelized almonds in chocolate: Melt chocolate 3/4 of the way in a large bowl, then stir to let it melt the rest of the way using the residual heat in the bowl.

Pour caramel-coating almonds into melted chocolate and stir several times to coat evenly. Use forks to pluck almonds one by one out of chocolate bowl and drop into coating of choice. Roll almonds until coated and spread out to set on prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining almonds.

Once again, you can set these quickly in the freezer (or outside, on a very cold day), this time give it 10 to 15 minutes.

To finish/pack up: Once almonds are set, they’re ready to be boxed or bagged. These keep months at room temperature.

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347 comments on chocolate caramel crunch almonds

  1. Yooooooooo. Those candies look unreal in glass jars. I’ve been making candied peanuts for years — there’s an orange-cardamom variation over on my blog that I’m rather fond of, which my in-laws have now adopted as their go-to neighbor gift — but I hadn’t thought to chocolate-coat them. And the sanding sugar is SO SPARKLY. I love it, obviously.

    Question RE the moka pot: did you actually figure out a half-pot method? I always just figured the only way would be, basically, to get a smaller pot. (Not that I have this problem, since I drink coffee in vast quantities, but I’m intellectually curious.)

    1. deb

      I did! Basically, 6 espresso cups = 1 1/2 cups, so I use 3/4 cups water and to half-fill the filter I find that 14 grams or a little over 2 tablespoons is just right. We’re basically making Americanos. For iced, I just pour it over a cup of ice as shown. For hot, I will stretch it with some hot water, though less than recommended in the pot’s insert.

      1. This just blew my mind. Thank you! I bought a moka pot last year, and I love using it, but it makes 6 servings, which is great when I have friends over, but not so great when I just want something for me. I’ve been freezing the extra coffee (using it whenever I need espresso for something like cookies or chili), but is better.

        1. Anna

          Bialetti has tiny ones as well, I have a 6 cups and a 2 cups one. As far as I know, they also have a 1 cups one. They sell these all over the place at least in the Netherlands. Maybe you can find them online.

          The 2 cups one is absolutely perfect for 1 person.

          1. EL

            I actually have one that steams the milk while making the coffee. You put the milk in the top and the water in the bottom and the coffee in the filter. It essentially makes lattes rather than cappucino as it claims, but I like lattes better anyway.

            1. Georgia

              I think we’re going to need the name of your coffeemaker.. You’re describing my ideal at home setup – I prefer lattes over brewed coffee w/ milk, but don’t have space for more than one or two pieces of equipment.

      2. Also, if you have a French press (I’m guessing no, if you said you just bought your first coffee-making apparatus), you can make steamed frothy milk with it. Best/worst discovery for making lattes at home.

      3. JessB

        Please do a tutorial on how to make coffee in these! A full pot and then a half as well. I have one wallowing in my cupboard because I’ve never known what to do with it.

      4. Kimberly

        Just a note for those coffee purists when using the moka pot. To get the best results, the success of the moka pot requires the espresso grounds to be under the right amount of pressure when heating and when you don’t fill the filter all the way you will not extract the best flavor from the beans. This moka pot works based on pressure. If you don’t fill all the coffee chamber, the water will go through the gaps and not the coffee, giving you a weak brew. The pots come in three, six and nine cup sizes (cup size refers to an espresso shot) and you will get the best result from using the right pot for the amount of coffee/espresso you are making. Next go directly to Amazon/Best Buy etc. and purchase the excellent Breville milk frother. It is a wonder gadget that makes perfect hot, foamy milk for your latte or cappuccino. You can also use it to make other hot beverages.

        I purchased this combination of moka pot and Breville frother a couple of months ago to capture the glory of an excellent latte that I used to experience every day when I owned a coffee shop. (our lattes’ were the best!) The total investment was around $150-160 and it doesn’t take up massive room on my countertop. Anyway, a little more info on how to best to use your moka pot:

        What Bialetti’s website recommends, is to grind your coffee a step above espresso grind (so the lower end of fine drip) and then put it on the stove at LOW heat with the lid open. It takes approximately 10-11 minutes, depending on your cooktop and the size of your pot (once it starts brewing, it brews quickly and you want to remove it from the stove in time so the gasket doesn’t burn).
        As a rule of thumb, if it takes more than 13 minutes to brew on low heat, then your grind is likely too fine and it’s having trouble building enough pressure to percolate (and it will probably taste a little burnt). If it takes 7-10 minutes on low heat, your grind is not fine enough. Leave the lid open during brewing, both so you can see when the coffee brews and to avoid it burning. Once it starts percolating, it goes quickly. Don’t use high heat, because you will burn your coffee and the percolation spout spews coffee outside of the pot and onto your stove. Be careful that the handle does not get hot. With a little trial and error I am sure you will adapt to your own preferences but these are the basics. Hope this helps!

        1. davina

          I have to say I find the very best result comes close to 3.5 minutes on a flame that does not exceed the diameter of the pot. The resulting brew is not burnt, not bitter nor sour, but slightly sweet, rich & full of all the complex tastes of a good bean or blend. (Freshly roasted beans, & freshly ground just before you brew, give life-changing results.) If the brew sits too long in the upper chamber, even the heat of the chamber itself will “burn” the brew. Remove the pot & pour your brew before it has completely finished coming out of the spout. The last bit of the brew will be a bit “off”, less perfect than the initial swoosh, as it has brewed longer & is impacted by the shot of steam mixing in as the brewing finishes. (Some moka enthusiasts take the pot off the stove immediately & put it on a cold cloth to stop the brewing process & avoid any overheating.)

          1. davina

            I neglected to say my go-to Bialetti moka pot is a small one–a 2-cup size, so that also affects the time it takes to brew. Bigger pots will take a little longer to brew.

          2. Kimberly

            Good note on taking the pot off before it has completely finished brewing. I did it a couple of times inadvertently and thought the coffee tasted better.

  2. Charlotte in Toronto

    I’ve been waiting for these to make an appearance ever since you flaunted them on Instagram just before Halloween. I was afraid we’d have to wait for the new book to come out, but here they are. Thank you.

  3. Jenna B.

    Are the mouths of the canisters large enough to dip a measuring cup into? If I stored flour in there, could I dip in a cup and skim the top? Fingers crossed, because if so, I think they’re exactly what I’ve been looking for!

          1. Safta Sue

            I keep a 1/2 cup measure in the canister with the flour. After I use the first cup, I can fluff it before I remove any more. Even Ina Garten seems to “dip.”

        1. Joey

          I’m surprised you don’t weigh ingredients. My scale is probably the single gadget I wouldn’t give up from my kitchen. It’s a pain for a couple weeks, but now off the top of my head I can tell you what a cup of different types of flour, sugar, cocoa powder, honey, peanut butter, or milk weighs. You end up not even needing to get measuring cups out (less cleanup) and it’s more accurate/consistent.

          A good trick I have for flour is to first put a large mixing bowl on the scale and tare to zero. Then I dump flour from a large canister into a mesh strainer over the bowl and tap it against the edge of the bowl or my hand repeatedly to sift the flour into the mixing bowl. You don’t have to measure at all, the flour won’t come out of the strainer unless you’re shaking it; so you just slow down as you approach however much you want and stop when you hit it, dump the rest of the flour back into the canister and you’re on your way. Ingredients that don’t require fluffing/sifting are obviously much easier.

          1. deb

            Whatever I’m about to scoop with, I’ll first use to fluff up the flour a little so you don’t end up with a cup that’s too tightly packed and heavy. Then scoop and sweep/level.

  4. sarahburt

    Oy! Just because things say they’re dishwasher safe doesn’t mean you should actually put them in the dishwasher. It’s a marketing gimmick. Please don’t put a piece of beautiful Staub in the dishwasher, people.

    1. Charlotte in Toronto

      I would beware of the dishwasher. A while back on Instagram Deb was showing us a bundt cake that didn’t quite come out of the pan in one piece and the people from Nordicware chimed in to say that their pans shouldn’t go in the dishwasher. A Staub is an investment and I would be afraid to do anything but handwash. I detest washing dishes and would rather load everything into the dishwasher, but there are a few things where I bite the bullet and handwash.

      1. deb

        I should add that I’ve been putting my Staub in the dishwasher for years without a problem and that I also double-checked with the company first because I was nervous. But I do realize most sane people don’t take this risk.

  5. This all looks great! I would love to see the coffee maker tutorial. Would you say you’re getting something closer to espresso or closer to drip coffee when from this? Its marketed as an espresso maker, I see, I’m curious if I could use it to replace my french press, which I agree can be very sludgy.

  6. Stephanie Jones

    Do I add the sprinkles right after rolling them around in chocolate? You are amazing!!! I needed an idea for homemade gifts to accompany my sprinkles! I’m telling you- we have a seriously telepathic connection! Xo

      1. Stephanie

        What if we’re doing cocoa? Still right after, or is it that when the chocolate cools?
        These are the best thing ever from Trader Joe’s but, like you said, aren’t quite perfect. I can’t believe you’re giving me a way to make perfect ones!!!!!

        1. deb

          Same thing, just roll it in. With cocoa, you can actually let it cool completely in the cocoa, so long as the pieces are separated by some. I did this with a few, I popped the bowl in the freezer for a couple minutes then dumped the almonds and cocoa in to a mesh strainer/sifter and shook off the excess once it was hard. Then I re-used the cocoa.

          The biggest difference between these and the TJ’s version is that the chocolate coating is much thinner here — to get it thicker, you’d need a chocolate-tumbling machine. Believe me, I’ve been tempted. :)

      1. Heather

        Mince pies never have meat! Mincemeat is all fruit and dried fruit and spice and booze and LOVELY.

        Years like this, when mum hasn’t sent me a jar of her homemade stuff, I buy a grocery store one (usually near the pie fillings) and grate an apple or two into it.

      2. Hannah

        My mother’s mince pies are vegetarian and divine … rich and flaky pastry dough flavored with orange zest … very similar to your rhubarb hand pie dough. Filling is dried fruit, brandy, sugar. She puts a dab of cream cheese on top of that, which you don’t really notice when you eat it but must melt into the filling and make it extra good. Pastry lid with a star cut out or slit. She makes them ahead and then warms them in the oven before serving.

      3. Maria

        Here to recommend open face mince pies, or mince pies with just a light struesel topping. A two crust version is a bit heavy. From a household of mincemeat lovers, and we like it better this way.

        Also, if you like mincemeat, there is a recipe for oatmeal-mincemeat cookies out there that is really great. Tastes the same without the goopy mess.

      4. Yeah historically they had meat in, but now at the very least they’re vegetarian. All the gorgeous dried fruits are mixed with sugar or treacle and vegetable suet. Then everyone has their own little trick- mix in some alcohol, a few apple pieces. Nuts maybe. A rasp of zest. Using your basic pastry is delicious. I have be be gluten free for one of my daughters and an alternative flour that I am loving is chestnut flour. If you make the pies then sub in 1/4 of the flour for the pastry. My Italian roots mean I like a salty rather than sweet pastry but, here, everyone goes bananas for Mince Pies :) Panetonne in Italy, Kulick in Russia – all delicious.

        1. Charlotte in Toronto

          My mother always made a big batch of mince meat if someone gave her dear meat. My MIL always used rabbit. They both refused to use anything else. Both options grossed me out. Later I discovered that there are people out there who make it without meat. I tried it and was hooked. I’ve been using this recipe for a while now: This is a really nice recipe. I use all cider instead of cider and juice, butter instead of suet and all brandy – no rum. Make it into open faced tarts. My sister uses this filling inside rolled tubes of phylo and serves with hard sauce or warm rum and butter sauce. Either way it’s yummy.

        2. I jus got a little carried away with the food history so I will relay a tiny bit.
          The origin of the Mince Pie is 11th Century England and originally did contain mutton.
          This is a little quote from English Heritage Food & Cooking In Medieval Britain by Maggie Black (1985) However, medieval people wanted more than just salt, pepper and mustard as condiments. Wealthy European cookery was aromatic and pungent with ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, mace, cardamoms and cloves, and other spices we no longer use such as galigale, grains of paradise and cubebs’
          I so want to try ‘grains of paradise’ and ‘cubebs’!
          Medieval Mincemeat Recipe
          1lb peeled cored and chopped apples (eaters not cookers)
          1lb currants
          1lb sut
          1lb large raisins
          1/2lb sultanas
          1lb demerara sugar
          2oz almonds,blanched and finely chopped
          1/2gill rum
          2oz each of candied lemon, orange and citron peel all finely chopped
          grated rind and juice of 2 large lemons
          1/2 nutmeg finely grated
          1/4 tsp each of ground cloves and cinnamon
          1/8 tsp each ground ginger and mace
          1/2 tsp salt
          1/4pt brandy
          Mix well and store in clean jars. Allow to stand for a minimum of 4hours before use.

                1. Denese

                  Beware. My daughter brought back several varieties of peppercorns when she moved from Indonesia. On the package of long pepper, it advised cracking them into smaller pieces prior to placing in the peppermill. Her brother did not read the directions in his eagerness to try them. Shortly thereafter the grinding mechanism on his mill cascaded from the bottom in place of the desired pepper.
                  We had hammered our long peppercorns into manageable chunks and our mill (same highly-rated one as his) is fine. Proof that hauling out the bifocals and squinting at small print can pay off.

    1. Anne Willan’s Fresh Mincemeat Pie was the only mincemeat my Mom ever would eat, but she actually _liked_ that one. It has no meat. I’ve messed around with it some to my own taste, but I even make it in July, sometimes.

  7. Oh man, I still remember the research that went into buying our silverware. For me, it boiled down to if the spoon would stay in the soup/cereal bowl if left there, or if it would tip over if left unattended. The struggle is real!

    Thanks for the cookbook list — I have a few others on my list, with Soframiz, at the top of the heap. Not sure if you saw, but Ottolenghi announced last week he’s having a dessert only cookbook coming out next fall. I’ll be counting down the days.

  8. Marisa

    I congratulate you on your choice of a Bialetti coffee maker. Not only do these coffee makers produce excellent coffee, but they are environmentally friendly. No plastic pods to dispose of. The used coffee grounds can be composted, used as a body scrub, used to absorb refrigerator odours or to scrub pots and pans.

  9. eclaire

    I would love if you could write up how to make a half pot of coffee from a 6-cup Bialetti!! I was *just* looking into buying one the other day, and I couldn’t decide between a 3-cup (I live alone) and a 6-cup (I occasionally serve coffee to guests). Being able to make a half pot from the 6-cup model would be the best of both worlds.

    1. deb

      If you only have 1 cup a day, I’d just get the 3-cup. That said, I bought the 6-cup so I could make 2 Americano cups but I’m already thinking for guests I’d go much bigger and am working up the courage to buy the largest size.

      1. davina

        Really, for the best results, always make the number of servings that match your moka pot’s capacity…. don’t use a 6-cup size half full. It’s not at all unusual to have several different sizes of moka pots in one household. We use a size that exactly matches the number of people we are serving, and this gives the best flavour result. I use a 3-cup sized moka pot for one serving of espresso. Add manually steamed & frothed milk, and you’ve got a yummy latte or capp.
        Moka pots require patient experimentation to learn how to get the best results, and you don’t want even a hint of any bitter or sour overtones in your finished brew. It should resemble the “rich, gentle sweetness” of real espresso, even though it is not a true espresso. Freshly ground espresso beans are far better than anything already ground….time consuming, but definitely worth it…. a cup of morning bliss. (16 grams of beans to every 100 ml (3.5 ounces) of water. (Grind slightly finer than a setting for drip coffee–should resemble fine sand or super fine sugar… experiment for best grind size… Hario hand grinders work really well.) Pour your brew before all the expulsion has finished, to avoid the last bit of the brew which will lean to a more bitter profile. (It takes about 3.5 minutes to complete a brew over a medium hot setting.)

    1. deb

      Wait, I’m supposed to childproof it? :) There’s really nothing for them to get into. We are not actually supposed to have a grill (shh) so we put it “away” (i.e. on the bottom shelf of the cart we use for it) when we’re not using it and we bought a cover to go over it. So, it’s under a cover, I’m not sure how a kid would get into it or what they do if they did, but they’re really never out there unsupervised so it hasn’t come up.

  10. This may sound like a goofy question, but I live in a teeny tiny apartment with only a half fridge and built-in (aka extra teeny tiny) freezer to match. Unfortunately, a baking sheet won’t fit. For the “cooling down” periods, can I just leave these resting on the counter? Or do they need to get fully cold?

    1. Deb will have a much more workable idea, but it occurred to me that maybe you put a cookie sheet on top of a larger flat tub or dish of some kind that you’ve filled with a mix of ice cubes and water, or slushed ice. ? Just a thought.

    2. Gitty

      Pretty sure 5 min in the freezer is just to get the temp down enough to touch it. Based on my experience with candied nuts like these, once they are cool enough to handle, you are good to go

  11. Your candy technique is brilliant. Though I’m kind of spoiled for really good chocolate choices, especially when we go to Belgium.
    Bialetti has espresso makers that work on induction, too.
    Dutch ovens rule. So do canning jar cannisters.
    BUT what is this about “accurate” measuring spoons? How hard is it to make a measuring spoon that they aren’t all accurate?!?!?!

  12. Grace DeShaw-Wilner

    I’ve been intrigued by the coffee maker for a while now, and am pleased to see your comments on it. I jumped on Amazon and picked one up with the Illy coffee as well. I would be interested in a tutorial. Thank you for your blog–it’s difficult to describe how much fun I have reading each new post. This week? I’m making three of your chocolate/peanut butter cream cheese/ganache cakes. I’m in heaven.

  13. Betty

    Can I ask, should the almonds be blanched or are they okay with the skin’s on?
    Apropos mince pies, as someone mentioned them – no, they don’t have meat in them, although in centuries gone by the fruit and spices disguised less than fresh meat. Can you tell that I’m writing from the UK? I’ve just been making a big bowl of mincemeat, using the recipe I’ve used for nearly 40 years, Josceline Dimbleby’s walnut and date mincemeat in Orange pastry. Magnificent with brandy butter. Christmas would not be Christmas without them.
    I love your blog Deb. Your recipes, writing and the photos of your lovely children brighten up my week. Thank you so much.

  14. Jaime

    What changed the coffee game for me was switching to “cold brew” and using THE FILTRON. (Love the name! Haha!!) We use 1 lb of beans (grind) then steep with water overnight out on the counter top. The next day, the coffee concentrate drains into a carafe and lasts for 5-6 WEEKS in the fridge (not that ours ever lasts that long). Its the BEST. I can’t go back to hot brewed coffee (at home, anyways). You always have coffee on hand and if you want iced coffee you just add a few oz of the concentrate, then top off with cold water or milk and voila! Iced coffee. If you want hot, you put your couple oz of concentrate in a mug, add your creamer then top off with hot water…voila! Delicious hot coffee! Apparently the FILTRON is from the 70’s or 80’s (??) so its been around awhile. It has replaced all my other coffee making gadgets (the pot you have, the Aero press, and multiple french presses).

    PS – I can’t believe you have lived this long with only 1 set of measuring cups and spoons!! Holy moly!!! I have 3 of each and it makes life so much easier! :)

  15. Julia

    I love you site. It is the only blog I read regularly, and have for years. I’ve fallen out of love with so many other food blogs and websites as they become overrun with product placements.

    In general your advice is great, so thank you! But is your gift guide a paid product placement?

    1. deb

      There are no paid placements on this site, ever, and I don’t accept freebies. Everything here I bought myself. I get a few pennies from each purchase made through Amazon links, but this doesn’t change what I buy for my kitchen, of course. I’m sorry if this was ever unclear.

  16. Maggie

    Yes please, please do a post on your coffee-making. I’ve eyed the bialetti myself but because I like just really standard, boring, light or medium roast drip coffee, I’ve been afraid of the “espresso” aspect.

  17. Tess

    These almonds are PERFECT for Christmas gifting- where did you get those cute glass jars to put them in? I saw some in a store this weekend but the cost was a little high for what are, after all, supposed to be budget-friendly gifts!

    1. deb

      They’re Weck jars (see here) and they’re definitely a little pricey for gifts. We used them for baby food and other stuff. A reader pointed me to this website last week; much better jar prices to be had if you’re willing to buy bulk. They’re also great for spice racks. The Weck jars you see, for reference, hold a little shy of 1 cup (.93, to be exact), so, tiny gifts. More ideal for homemade jam.

      1. Charlotte Traveler

        Weck makes the jars in several sizes – including a nice, fat one that would be ideal for nuts-in-a-jar gift giving. We use many different sizes of for leftover storage and have bought the replacement gaskets, as they stretch out after a few uses. I would agree that the Weck web site is a great source for this – they have everything. LOVE the sparkly nuts, am going to try some of these as soon as I can get to the store for almonds. Thank you for a great idea!

    2. Mischelle

      Weck jars are a bit more expensive than Ball or Mason canning jars, but the best source I have found for price is on Amazon.

  18. Elisa

    Please tell me where you found your lowercase letter fridge magnets. I have been searching for years (years!) for a lowercase i to complete our family initials. The store I bought them from in Vancouver no longer sells them and I’ve come up with nothing online.
    Also the almonds look amazing.

  19. Leah

    DORIE’S COOKIES! I can’t wait to work my way through it. Already bookmarked leckerli to add to my holiday platter. She also has a recipe for Anzac biscuits, which I’ve secretly been hoping you’d tackle, because they are so good (golden syrup! coconut! toffee smells!) but awfully sweet. If anyone could bring them out of the blood sugar stratosphere, it’s you.

      1. zoe

        Ugh. Anzac biscuits should never, ever have coconut in them (although I admit this is a controversial stance, even here in the homeland!). They also shouldn’t be too sweet, and adequate salt is vital (always use salted butter at least). I don’t know what either of these recipes are like, but we prefer the older ones, such as those printed here: The CWA is an ever-reliable source. Some prefer soft, spongy Anzacs, others cook them a little longer for a bit of crunch. Don’t leave them in too long though or you end up with rock-hard toffee you have to dunk in your coffee to make edible (ahem :D).

  20. Grace Gilles

    I have a stash of roasted almonds that are “lightly salted”. Should I omit the salt in the caramel if I use them? Or just use less?

  21. swisscheese

    Excellent “not a gift guide”! I’ve had the Weber Baby Q (as it was called at the time), the Piemont silverware and the Bialetti for several years now, and they’ve all held up very well :)

      1. Aimee

        Are there serving pieces for the Piemont? I love the style of this flatware, but would love to have matching serving pieces, too!

        1. deb

          No, there are aren’t — and weren’t when I called about these last January. I was worried because they were on backorder at the time and I wanted to know if they were getting rid of the pattern and if I should move on. The guy assured me that they were a very popular pattern and not going out of print, so to speak, any time soon but that they no longer made the serving pieces.

  22. StudentCook

    Oooh! These look lovely and not overly expensive for me to make as an Xmas present (well, if I steal some ingredients from the cupboard at home- I’m a student and feel that this sort of justifies thievery) Would second the request for a (British) mince pie recipe, especially as your sticky toffee pudding recipe is excellent.

    1. Betty

      I do seriously recommend Josceline Dimbleby’s date and walnut mincemeat with orange pastry for the pies. She now recommends putting two cranberries on top of the filling and it does add a pleasantly sharp twist.

  23. Deb, those almonds are BEAUTIFUL! They’re everything I love about the holidays. … which is mostly just that everything is covered in glitter. They might join the other treats in our family’s traditional Cookie Weekend baking binge.

    As for those large jars; I bring mine with me to the grocery store and fill them from the bulk bins; you can never accidentally buy too much because the container is there with you. It also means you don’t need a list, just see which jars are empty. A large canning funnel makes this process a LOT tidier. The glass jars also mean no more plastic bags bursting in my bicycle bags and leaving me with flour on EVERYTHING for months. And no, I’ve never broken a jar.

      1. My experience with stores that sell bulk goods is to have my jars weighed at the cash register before I fill them. The cashier will record the weight of the jar on a piece of tape, then the tare weight is taken when I’ve filled my jars and am checking out. Make sense? :-)
        Oh, and my local Whole Foods gives a 10% discount on bulk goods if you bring your own jars…

  24. Suzanne

    Deb, I just love aprons so much that I am actually writing to you to comment that I love aprons.
    This recipe reminds me that this year I am going to make rum balls with nuts, which were my favorite as a child, and will also try the ones with bourbon (and some with apple juice) that you made last year. And I am going to make them this weekend so they have time to get better with time before the holidays.
    Hope you and your lovely family have very happy season! Thank you for all you do.

  25. Cathy Jardine

    An aero press is another way to make a great cup of coffee, usually one cup at a time. Makes espresso type coffee. Have tried many types of coffee maker, including stove top espresso makers, Bodums, etc, and refuse to use a system, such as Nespresso, that uses pods. Have used my aero press for a few tears, gave one to my coffee aficionado son in law, and he like it too. Great if only making for one or two people.

  26. Just in time for my annual baking weekend! These almonds have been added to my ever-growing list of things to make. Quick question about doubling the recipe – do you think the same sized pan could be used for a double batch?

  27. I really like how you’ve changed the aesthetic of the almond candies depending on the coating, from bright sprinkles to the austerely elegant cocoa.

    I have a dutch oven (not that they’re called that in the UK), just a relatively cheap one, and they are very useful – it would be a fantastically useful, but also fantastically heavy, gift. I quite like the slightly shallower, wider ones myself because there’s more surface area to brown meat on and liquid seems to come to a boil more quickly than in the deeper, narrower ones. I don’t know if my justification is driven by my preference of the aesthetic, though!

    Really enjoying, too, the comments about mince pies in the comments section. They are such a British institution that it seems boggling that they could be an object of interest and fascination elsewhere!

  28. Linda Schneider

    I love my bialetti pot–I have the 3 cup size, just right for one person (I pour it into hot milk for a “latte”). No plastic pods, no paper filters, very little waste, though you do need to replace the rubber gasket every so often. And all the parts are replaceable–even the handle. In Italy last summer I saw them in the shops in bright colors and patterns, but here I’ve only ever seen the plain metal version.

    1. deb

      The 6-cup I linked to is available in other colors, I’m just a bore and went unpainted. How often do you replace your rubber gasket? I ordered an extra when I bought mine and have made (since I keep count) 42 cups of coffee and it looks like it’s already on its last legs.

      1. Jen

        What do you mean it looks like it’s on its last legs? I replace mine about every two years. And I make 1-2 pots per day. The rubber gets discolored really quickly. And not long after that I can start to see a permanent indentation, but it still seals fine. Eventually I’ll take it out and flip it over. The second side doesn’t last nearly as long as the first, of course.

        Are you washing it with detergent? Maybe that could be degrading the rubber? I just rinse mine with water as that’s what Marcella Hazan recommends.

        Also, do I want to ask why you’re counting the number of coffees you’ve made?

        1. deb

          I meant its last legs, so thank you. I take the coffee maker apart — rubber gasket and filter too — to wash it each time because I can’t stand the old coffee smell and the rubber gasket is the only place that seems to absorb it. I never use soap, just hot water and bottle brush to get in the crevices.

          I keep count of my homemade coffees because each is a cup of coffee I didn’t buy as a pat on the back for all the money saved (there are no lattes or Americanos around here for less than $3.50, for example).

          1. davina

            Rinsing & “washing” with water is fine, but definitely no soap. The traditionalists swear by a moka pot that has been “broken in” with coffee oil residues gradually discoloring the aluminum (yes, food-grade aluminum) interior. There is a difference between a good coffee smell left in the pot after rinsing, and a sour or off-putting smell. You want a bit of the coffee oils to mask any stainless steel or aluminum metallic “essence” to your brew. It should smell pretty good, with just a hint of coffee to remind you it is a coffee maker!
            After reading Jen’s comment on flipping the gasket over, it made me think that might be why mine lasts so long; I’ve never paid attention to which way I put the gasket in after I rinse my pot, so perhaps it is getting more life since it is not left in there with the same side up all the time.

      2. davina

        I have used the same rubber gaskets for years. Perhaps it depends somewhat on whether they are rubber or silicon… i really don’t know, but I don’t think they need to be replaced as often as people think they do. If your pot is leaking, the gaskets may need to be replaced, but first eliminate the possibility that it is leaking because of a stray coffee grind on the gasket or rim, or an improperly filled funnel. (I use a bialetti moka pot one to two times each & every day, so the gaskets get a lot of use. I do rinse my pot right away, and often remove the gasket for a more thorough rinse/clean. I suspect if you are leaving the gasket sitting in the hot moka pot for long periods of time, it might mean it will wear out sooner. Gaskets like to stay moist, not hot & dry. Even if it looks badly coffee-stained, it can perform just fine.

    2. Marisa

      I love my bialetti as well – it’s the Kitty, 4-cup, which is perfect for one medium-to large cup of coffee. And the Kitty is cute and stainless as well!

  29. So funny to see you post this today. Someone else just posted about the Staub sale at W-S and I thought of when you bought your Dutch oven, justifying it as a place for the baby to sleep. 😊I ordered the glass lidded universal pan because I wanted high sides but a wide bottom – functionally, what is the difference between a glass lid and a cast iron lid?

    1. deb

      I hadn’t even seen that before, it looks cool. Mostly the glass is less heavy and stable, it might be less “oveny” inside but otherwise I can’t imagine it making a huge difference in most home cooking. I was completely okay with using the big one as a cradle, and now that chance has passed! Sigh.

      1. I frequently use my braiser with the cast iron lid to take things to pot lucks. Heavy cast iron makes great thermal mass. If you get both the pot and lid good and hot (I put the lid in the oven with the dish if It’s uncovered for any part of the baking…), time things so it’s ready just before you leave, and are careful handling it on the way to the place (the box an Amazon order arrived in is helpful for carrying), it’ll still be safe eating-temperature when everybody finishes their drinks and appetizers…

  30. Dorothy Reese

    Another inexpensive container is from Crate and Barrel. It’s a glass storage bowl with plastic lid that holds 2 cups. $1.95 each or $19.95 for 12. (I use them daily for leftovers.)

  31. Sarah

    Just to be clear you are making coffee and not expresso? I love in Miami and we also use this style pot–a cafetera-to make Cuban coffee. We also make a foam called espumita with a bit of hot coffee and sugar whipped together and then blend all the coffee together with the foam.

  32. Kate

    I’m not sure how far you are from a Costco but they have (in their Kirkland brand) chocolate covered almonds that are sprinkled with both sea salt and turbinado sugar. Just the right salty sweet handful of deliciousness. My only warning is that they only have them during fall and winter. I have been known to squeal when seeing them appear in September…

  33. mmayphilip

    So, if I wanted to skip the chocolate and just do salted caramel almonds, could I roll them in the finishing sugar after the caramel step? Thanks!

      1. mmayphilip

        I did this last night and now have some beautiful shiny, crunchy almonds with white sparkling sugar. I had some difficulty keeping the caramel from hardening while I rolled them in the sugar (and I did several at a time). They taste more like really nut-heavy brittle, but they look and smell great and are delicious. Not sure I’d repeat again for the work involved, but I’m glad I tried.

        1. Anastasia

          I was wondering about using this recipe for toffee nuts, no chocolate, no sprinkles… opinions? Do they clump and then break apart into jagged bits or can I hope they will cool as somewhat rounded single (or small groups) nuts?

  34. Lorri

    Coffee instructions please. I have tried and tried just can’t get it right. The grinned might be to fine or not. Please I want a good cup of coffee from my own house..

  35. I make truffles in the winter, and I’ve found a thing that’s weirdly useful. You know those cheap roaster pans that sometimes come free with an oven? (first result of a quick search, rather than anything special about this one)

    Well if you put some parchment (I use waxed paper, but that seems out of fashion these days) over the top part, then you have little grooves to line up your coated candies.

    This years truffles might have caramel coated almonds inside them. :)

  36. I guess that you can’t post the dud kitchen stuff you bought, never use, and can’t bear to get rid of…I must tell you that I shop at Salvation Army each, just for kitchen items, amazing finds, brand new looking Chicago Metallic tart pans, barely used Crueset pans, once, an amazing Tangine. Off to make caramel corn.

    1. deb

      As you wish! I don’t know why I bought a Marianne cake pan. I never use my deep dish pie dish because most people have standard ones so I write recipes for what people have. I bought and loathed a salad spinner; it took up so much space (and practically the whole dishwasher to wash it) and lettuce still seemed wet, what’s the point? I bought a ravioli press; I used it once. I don’t think I’ve used my steamer basket 5 times, although to be fair, when I have I’ve remarked “wow, this does a great job,” and then go back to using once every two years. I’ve had a lot of average serrated knives; a good one seems to glide through bread with no effort. Oh! And everyone on earth told me to get one of those forsaken apple peeler/corer things and I detested it! I could never get my imperfect Greenmarket apples centered on it, there were always bits of core or peel left behind. I tend to get rid of stuff fast, however, that I don’t use so I’m sure there’s much, much more where this came from.

      1. I have a Maryann cake pan, used, it was $1.50, so, I have used it twice. I agree on the apple peeler/ it is just as easy to do it by hand. We have a salad spinner, husband likes it. I am trying to decide if I really “need” the pasta attachments for the KA. I am sure that I do…

        1. deb

          I have an Atlas pasta machine that I love; I can see why it’s the gold standard. I know people love the KA one but I don’t keep my KA out so taking it out to make pasta in an already small kitchen would annoy me. But I have the meat grinder attachment! And never, ever use it. (But plan to. I really do.) But I’m mostly responding because I thought of something else: I am the only person on earth who has upgraded from a tilt-head KA to a bowl-lift professional KA and hated it. I gave it away (gave. it. away.) and bought (bought!) my old one again. I’m going to stop listing things now because I don’t think I can top this.

          1. My mom had a Kitchen Aid that was probably 30 years old (from when they still had all-metal innards), but it was looking a little beat up, so she wanted to get a new one. Gave the old one to my sister, bought a new model…and now wants her old one back ;-)

          2. S.

            I LOATHE the bowl-lift KA. I downgraded to a smaller tilt-head because I couldn’t afford a professional version, but I’d rather that than the bowl-lift. So no, you’re not the only one.

            1. Jen

              I thought I was the only one who didn’t like my new bowl-lift KA! I so miss my old tilt. I felt so guilty that I didn’t love the new one right away. I figured maybe it’s like an arranged marriage and I would eventually learn to love it. ;)

  37. So glad you linked to those chocolate sprinkles, especially after we talked about them yesterday! (Again, so nice to meet you!) My mom asked me if I had seen them literally seconds after I added them to my wishlist so I think we’re going in on some.

    I’ve been thinking about getting a Bialetti so I’m glad to hear you’ve endorsed them. I really hate hot coffee for some reason (but not espresso drinks) and am getting sick of bringing iced coffee to work. How would you go about making something mocha-esque?

  38. AliBean

    Those aprons are cute, but you know what’s even better than a bib apron? A chef’s coat. No, seriously–hear me out. A chef’s coat covers all of you on top (including your arms which is great for splashy hot oil frying), they’re surprisingly comfortable, whatever you have on underneath (if anything) is protected so you can take the coat off and be un-bespattered by sauce or grease or whatever, and (bonus!) they look really cool. They’re bleachable if you buy white, stain-hiding if you buy black, and when paired with a long apron, you’re practically bulletproof. I have chronic neck pain, so much so that even the neck strap from a bib apron was too much to bear. I tried cooking in a series of t-shirts/sweatshirts with unhappy results, but when I tried on my first chef’s coat, I was a convert.

    1. AliBean

      PS, the chef’s coats I purchase are $13.99 from an online uniform supply company, not the $139 each as show on the Hedley & Bennett website. So, economical, too.

      1. Lolly Taylor

        Don’t you get hot in them? Maybe it’s just me, but as much as I like the idea of wearing a chef’s coat, the thought of cooking in a coat in a hot kitchen is enough to make me sweat right now. But then again, you should see the all of the stains on my shirts, etc., so I probably should get one!😬

    2. I do it the other way around: cook in a T-shirt for comfort, and keep a pristine chef’s coat (I have the classic heavy white from a job years ago, and a couple of others – one short-sleeved hot pink!) to put on and look nice after everything’s done. I do that for both gigs (cooking teacher) and parties in my home.
      But I adore my chef’s pants, which I make from a loose-fitting ethnic Indian pattern with a real drawstring (no elastic!).

  39. Melissa

    I love my Danish dough whisk (actually made in Poland) and use it for all sorts of dough. I make overnight sourdough several times a week and with a dough whisk it is so easy. I had to buy it on-line because I couldn’t find any kitchen shops that stock them here in Sydney.

  40. I am definitely interested in your method of coffee making with your little espresso maker. I’m sick of cleaning my French Press, and Keurig coffee capsules are not environmentally good, nor is the coffee (mostly). I’d love a really good coffee maker that has minimal clean-up i.e. dumping a filter of grounds into the com poster??!! What say you?

    1. Have a look at the Clever Coffee Dripper. It looks like a pour-over cone, but there’s a valve in the bottom which is closed just sitting there. You stick a cone filter in it, add your coffee (same grind as the French press) and water and let it brew as long as suits you. Then, when you place it on your cup, the valve opens and the brewed coffee pours down into the cup below. Dump filter and grounds, rinse/wash the cone, and you’re done.

      I always really liked the coffee from my French press, but, like you, hated the really messy cleanup. I found the CCD after much searching of the internet, and over time have succeeded in tweaking my brewing technique to near perfection.

  41. Teresa

    I love your kitchen gift guide and those almonds look amazing. I, too, am enjoying this year’s cookbooks. I met Dorie Greenspan yesterday at a Sur La Table event near my home and she did a demo on her classic jammer cookies, which I highly recommend, and a book signing. She is just as sweet as can be. I am looking forward to reading her new book which I received!

  42. missnese

    I have been looking at those little coffee pots since I am the only coffee drinker in the house and feel like I waste a lot. I would love a tutorial on how you use it.

  43. Heather S.

    Wonderful post. I enjoyed reading it. I love the short pot like glasses you displayed the finished product in. I noticed they also have lids. Can you please share where they came from?

  44. Jackie Mueller

    Such a perfect
    Idea to place left over sprinkles in those square plastic containers! Easy to see what you have. Where did you find them?

  45. Katherine

    What other nuts do you think this recipe would work with? We’re trying to avoid almonds because of their environmental impact, but I love this general idea.

  46. Sue

    I had an “ah ha” moment last week, hey stupid use one set of measuring spoons for wet, other for dry. I cannot believe how dumb I can be. Holiday baking just got a tad bit easier.

  47. Abs

    Question: Do those flour storage jars fit a one cup scoop measuring cup (such as the ones you’ve got shown) in through the top (so you can scoop out rather than pour)? I’ve found this is key. Thanks.

    1. deb

      I was so afraid of that too but from what I read, this is only a risk if you a) let your water go above the valve on the side (I go up to it, but not over) or b) pack your coffee in tightly, as one would for a big restaurant sized espresso machine.

  48. Jennifer

    Just in case no one else has mentioned it…. Do NOT ever put any part of the Bialetti coffee pot in the dishwasher. I learned the hard way that the aluminum finish turns into sludge afterwards. No Bueno.

  49. Charlotte in Toronto

    Deb, this is a little off track, but fits into the Christmas theme. If you’ve been to Montreal or Quebec City in the winter, they make a fantastic savory meat pie called Tourtier. Double crusted, beef and pork generously seasoned with sage, onion, allspice, cloves and a bunch of other stuff. Very tasty. I have a great recipe that I got from my friend’s grandmother. I’m making one this weekend. I’d love to ship you one but I know it would never make it past the border. Let me know if you might be interested in the recipe.

    1. Liz

      My family (all the way over in BC) always had tourtierre (not sure of proper spelling) for Christmas Eve dinner. Ours is a mix of beef and pork, although more of the herb-type spices than the warm spices like allspice and cloves. Never potatoes or any other type of “filler”.
      Occasionally I make a gamier version with ground deer, pork and lamb but it’s a bit on the rich side and not traditional, I don’t think.

      1. Charlotte in Toronto

        I’ll bet every family has their own treasured recipe. It’s stick-to-your-ribs-food. I’ve enjoyed any version that I’ve tasted. I’m not adverse to gamey food, so I’d probably love yours :)

  50. Sarah Beth

    I received a le creuset braiser as an unexpected wedding gift, and it is by far my most used pan. A generous aunt bought us the two dutch ovens we registered for (5 and 8), plus the braizer, which I figured I’d never use. But of course, I basically use it for everything. And it’s a slightly lower price point than a dutch oven, so it’s a great gift or just a thing to buy for yourself. (and Le Creuset has wonderful outlets with top-notch products, where you can get them at an even better price.)

    And what a good idea, to treat yourself to a second set of measuring cups and spoons! Having to rinse/wash my single set in the middle of a baking project is such a hassle, but I never thought to just get another set! Love these great ideas.

  51. Oh these look good!

    The Lidl near me often has big, self-serve tubs of almonds and other nuts… but always salted. I’ll often make a snack by briefly frying them in a thin drizzle of olive oil, so at the other half’s insistence we generally have a decent-sized bag of them in the cupboard.

    Do you think I could get away with using lightly salted almonds in this recipe?

  52. CR

    I consider you a consummate creator & purveyor of all kinds of pretty.

    That being the case, I can’t tell you how amusingly endearing I found you plumping for that little piece of sh*t (I’m sure there are ***prettier*** options out there) wipe off whiteboard as a holiday gift.

    Keepin’ it real, Deb.

    From one Jersey girl to another – happiest of holidays to YOU!

    1. deb

      Sorry, there’s really no generic for it that I know of so I should just say Maldon. A box can be pricy ($8-$10) but mine last for years because I just use it for “finishing,” a delicate salty crunch on some things. And if this is all too fussy and expensive, just use some sea salt, but less, a couple pinches as it’s much heavier for the same amount.

      Update! Actually, the price has come down a lot; Amazon has it for $4.95. Absolutely worth it then, promise.

  53. Cy

    Pardon the phrase, but I seem to be “hemorrhaging ” money these days! The holidays will be smaller, thoughtful and homemade gifts. These nuts are perfect and so pretty! I have similar glass jars I bought on MS website years ago. They don’t quite fit the 5lb bags, but do have a wider mouth for scooping. I just bought some of inexpensive scoops, the kind they have in the bulk bins and keep those in the jars for ” fluffing” my flour or sugar in my measuring cups. I have the other iconic Italian stove top espresso maker. I noticed some of the Biallettis are made in China, so I made sure to get the one that says ” made in Italy “. It has the gold rivet on the side. I love how fast it is. I confess, I do buy the ground Illy espresso, because, again I need the speeed on days when I don’t have time to ” grind and drip”. Melitta or now they call it, pour over ( even though Mrs. Melitta invented this method) is my favorite. It does take time. I rarely buy coffee out ( although here in SF we’ve always had great coffe due mostly to our little Italy) because I usually prefer what I make at home better anyway. Plus, the savings is huge! I’m with you on the 4qt size pot. It’s kind of perfect. I just bought the All-clad chefs pan and I love it. I am loving your Staub. I have several Le Crueset pieces. When I get on better financial ground, maybe I’ll get one. Thanks for all the kitchen wisdom!

  54. Janet

    You mention 2 cookbooks…anxiously awaiting your new one! When is it coming out? Also, I just bought Complete German Baking. Any comments on baker’s ammonia? I’m not really thrilled with the book, but love Dorie’s Cookies!
    Ps we enjoyed your chicken chili last night.

  55. Sarah

    My mother-in-law showed me a version of this. Equal weights of raw almonds and sugar into a pan. Turn on the heat and stir. Stir right through the sugar melting phase. Keep stirring through the crystalisation phase. Keep stirring till it melts again and the almonds are coated and shiny and roasted.

    I haven’t done this for ages but I’m going to try. It requires some persisitence in the stirring department.
    Thankyou for this amazing post. x

  56. Jen

    Are you talking about the sea salt and turbinado sugar almonds from trader joes? Because we LOVE those in our house and I would love to make a homemade version. Have you tried sprinkling salt on top of your version so there’s some crunchy crystals outside? Or maybe that’s just not necessary with salt in the caramel?

  57. Annette

    Um, yeah. So I went out today and bought 12 settings of Villeroy & Boch silverware plus serving utensils. (Not Piemont because that’s discontinued over here but something I think I’ll like a lot.)
    You ENABLER, you!

    1. Annette

      The silverware arrived yesterday – I couldn’t really carry it all the way home from Cologne, so they shipped it. Am eating my muesli with one of my new spoons, and I am *so* pleased! Thanks for the nudge!!

  58. sparkgrrl658

    just wanted to say thank you for this list. i really enjoyed the last one and hope it will become a yearly thing. i always find something that i could use, and especially like the cookbook recs. happy holidays!

  59. Jo

    Yes please a tutorial on coffee pot. We have one with the pods but this looks so much better than the pods for lattes. Word of caution do NOT use dishwashing detergent that contains citrus it will ruin your silverware. I love your set looks wonderful and works. Thanks for the apron recommendations I need to invest in acouple, I too just started using one and boy what a difference . Love this post, wonderful recommendations from someone who uses all this stuff.
    Thanks Deb for being you. I have been following you for many years and you are always so wonderful Happy holidays to you and your wonderful family.

  60. Emily

    What a great treat! I found the rolling process to be tedious, so I wound up just dumping 2/3 of the chocolate-coated almonds onto a cooling rack over a baking sheet to drip and harden without a final coating. They turned out delicious, if a little less sturdy than the coated ones.

    1. deb

      Great question — meant to add. The sugars that I think excel on these are called “pearlized sanding sugars” and the silvery finish really makes it sparkle in a more opaque way than regular sanding sugar, which is more transparent and won’t pop as much on chocolate.

      I bought them in four colors from NY Cake, a baking supply store on 22nd, they also sell it on their website: blue, pink/ruby, green and silver. It also comes in white, but the color didn’t do much here and isn’t that different from clear sanding sugar, and gold, which I didn’t try.

      On Amazon, I found gold, silver, pink/ruby and blue.

  61. Denese

    These almonds will surely push some of my usual seasonal treats out of the rotation. They offer a lot of possibilities. And I appreciate the gift suggestions, especially the ‘small things’.
    I have searched long and hard for a recipe for Joceline’s date and walnut mincemeat, to no avail. Amazon does not offer her cookbooks. Any more suggestions where I can look?

  62. hatch

    I can’t believe you posted a recipe for these today…! Just last night, I was doing a recipe search for this exact item, which I had years ago in Paris (from Patrick Roger) and have been wanting to recreate ever since. Can’t wait to give these a go…

  63. I literally could not survive a day without my espresso machine. It is a snap to use, cost a fair bit but is worth every cent. I miss real coffee when I travel overseas. Am loving these pretty little treats – I reckon they would make fab gifts for the neighbours. Metal note: bake something for the neighbours…

    1. davina

      A manual frother is inexpensive, easy to use, no wasted milk & gives great results for frothy or creamy or thickly whipped milk. I have one that has a stainless steel base & a very fine mesh screen attached to a handle & lid. I pump the milk to whatever consistency I want (you can even get that “wet paint” consistency espresso/latte-art lovers cherish. Milk should be heated to 140 degrees for best results. (I prefer this type of frother to the Bodum-style one I also have. The mesh is finer and only single layered, but gives a better result than the multi-layered mesh screen of my Bodum frother.)

  64. Anna

    I’ve had that espresso maker for the last 4 years and I love it! It’s perfect. Those candies look delicious – I love the colors. I think I have a new “small gift” idea for everyone this year, thank you!

  65. So, I was super excited about this recipe, and still am, even though I’m experiencing a minor setback…after the sandy phase, the sugar never really melted back down into the ooey-gooey caramel, and after a while my almonds began to burn! Too high heat? I had it on medium low… Either way, I’m still gonna dip them in chocolate and sprinkles and enjoy the hell outta ’em, even if there’s no smooth caramel but rather a kinda crunchy sugar coating… ;)

      1. Jackie

        I did, but after 10 minutes nothing was happening so I put it back on a low heat, which made it start to melt a little but not enough before the burning…oh well…I’ve just finished the batch and they’re super pretty and yummy still, so thanks for the inspiration! I’ll def be playing with it. ;)

        1. Liz

          I had the same thing happen to me too. Too low and nothing was happening with the sugar, too high and the almonds were roasting and the sugar was turning dark brown and flipping between melted and sandy without actually caramelizing.
          Round two today…

          1. AliceO

            I also was really worried when it got sandy (it got VERY sandy!) but for me, it did eventually melt again — but it took much longer than I thought. Maybe 7-8 minutes on medium heat to start really caramelizing, and maybe 12 minutes or so to fully melt after the sandy phase. I think it was good to keep the heat relatively low, so the sugar and almonds didn’t burn (since they were in there a while!)

            Deb – if the water evaporates out of the sugar, why do we add the water in the first place? I’m new to caramelizing…

            1. deb

              I don’t usually add water to caramels but it does make it much easier for beginners, and especially here when you’re adding the nuts early on. Basically, if you don’t add water, you’re cooking a dry sugar and it can go too dark faster. With water, you have a little more of a buffer as color develops.

              1. I had a little trouble after the sandy phase. Much of the “sand” was like a brick on the bottom of the pan, so I lost the faith and removed them! But I decided to try again, so I added a little water to “de-brick” the sand and I agree, it took awhile (maybe 8-15 minutes) but finally mostly melted back to caramel. They took me awhile to coat in chocolate and sprinkles (finally did up to a dozen at once by vigorously shaking the bowl with sanding sugar while adding nuts by fork with my other hand), but they are beautiful and delicious!

    1. I actually had to turn the heat up to get the sandy sugar to melt and carmelize. It kind of turned a light pink color. The almonds have a slight burnt taste but I think it works.

  66. Betty

    ‘re date and walnut mincemeat.
    The original recipe was in Josceline Dimbleby’s ‘Cooking for Christmas’ which was published by Sainburys many moons ago. This book was reissued a year or so ago. It is on Amazon in the UK. Try I will gladly send you the recipe Denese if it still proves impossible to find it. Good luck.

    1. Denese

      Thank you Betty. I will see if the book can make its way to Canada. If not, I may need help.

      And, re the ‘small things’ in the 2016 Gift Guide – I have two sizes of dough whisks. Use them for mixing bread dough as I do it by hand. I can never figure out why they work as well as they do, but as long as they do, I’m happy.

  67. semicircle66

    I’m going to experiment with these this weekend – swapping mexican drinking chocolate (Abuelita) for the bittersweet…maybe also adding some espresso powder!

    1. semicircle66

      Mexican chocolate is VERY grainy and will add a nice crunch (blended with smooth, semi-sweet), but won’t look nearly as pretty as sanding sugar. I did find some GOLD sanding sugar that I’ll also try. Will let you know how the Mexican chocolate version turns out.

  68. I made these almonds, which tasted like heaven (as expected!)….but, I had some issues with the sprinkle decorations. Did you drop each almond into the topping one-at-a-time? I feel like this would be the only way to get them as beautifully coated as yours! I didn’t have the patience, but mine weren’t as nicely coated. Suggestions? Thanks!

    1. same issue here. I would love to see your technique, Deb. I wound up dipping mine in sprinkles one at a time, which was tedious and time consuming. I also used a ton of sprinkles! The cocoa powder coating was not as popular in my house. My favorite look was white mini-non-pareils-they look stunning!

  69. I love your sprinkle situation! I’m going to have to craft my own someday soon! These nuts look fantastic, I love all the flavors and textures present.

  70. Emily

    I would love to eat dinner at your house the week that was shown on the picture of your white board. Soup and quiche are hard to beat!

  71. Mary Beth

    Good recipe both in taste and instructions. Tried rolling them in both cocoa and demerara sugar. Preferred the sugar to the cocoa—prettier and crunchier. Easy to do this in stages as you can caramelize the almonds, then finish them later with the chocolate.

  72. Becky

    Tutorial on that coffee pot plzzzzz. I want to get one for my husband for Christmas but figuring out how to use seems utterly overwealming. Do you grind or buy ground beans?

  73. contraress

    That almond crunch looks to die for. I recently had some salted caramel and chocolate covered almonds that were awesome. I can imagine that these would taste similarly. Great photos, too!

  74. Always love these picks! Splurged on both the cutting board and waffle maker you recommende last year and have zero regrets.

    I think I will go for the coffee pot this year. It will be my first time using one, so yes, I would love a tutorial on making half of a pot! Thank you Deb!

  75. AnnC.

    Tried these this morning, is there a trick to getting it to go back to smooth after it becomes “sandy”? Mine seemed to not want to !? I put it back over heat and it melted down a bit, but some were still coated in a sandy mix and stuck together and would not separate.
    Sure smells good though and they taste pretty good!

  76. My daughter made this last night and they are completely delicious (as are ALL your recipes, Deb) and completely addictive. Sad for my waistline that my 14 year old bakes when she’s bored!
    Anyway, she was hoping to make these as teacher gifts but the process of coating almonds individually in sprinkles, rolling around, shaking excess off with a fork, was VERY time consuming and making just one batch of these took well over 2 hours. I’m wondering if she did something wrong or if you have any tips for speeding up the process.
    We too worried when the caramel turned completely sandy but it did melt again–took patience and was perhaps a bit darker than we would have liked by them time it all melted again. Any suggestions for that part too?

    1. deb

      The caramel DOES get quite dark when it remelts, but it will still taste excellent (I hope you agree). You can see the color on mine is quite dark, too.

      Here’s how you can speed it up, a little: Have a lot of sprinkles. Let’s say you have a couple cups of the sanding sugar or the like. Sprinkle a thick layer in the bottom of a big bowl or dish, drop in some chocolate-covered almonds, not letting any touch, cover it again with sugar, repeat, repeat. Put the whole bowl in the freezer for 10 minutes, maybe, until they’re all set, shake off the extra sugar (or pluck the almonds out). Use it for the rest of the almonds. The disadvantage is that you may not be able to reuse the sprinkles that are left when you’re done. Theoretically, anything with chocolate on it should have stuck to the almonds and not gotten left in the bowl, but it’s an imperfect system. I also did this for some of the cocoa-covered nuts, then shook it out in a sifter/mesh strainer. Hope that helps.

  77. Lisa S

    Hi Deb, these look amazing! Unfortunately I don’t happen to have any almonds on hand, but I do have a ton of walnuts. Would those work?

  78. Marilyn

    Did anyone else have luck with these Chocolate Caramel Crunch Almonds? Mine turned out awful :-(. A complete waste of time and money.

  79. I tried these tonight and didn’t quite get the caramel right – it went from bubbling to dry all of a sudden and didn’t seem inclined to melt. Ended up with almonds in sandy sugar, which was ok but not great. For the coating, I found it easiest to take bunches of the almonds from the chocolate-y pile and dump them in a mix of cocoa and demerara sugar, and then toss them with my hands. They separated and all got coated rather nicely. They taste pretty good even with the messed up caramel.

    1. Marcy

      Same here. The directions say it will go sandy and look like you did something wrong…but it never caramelized….I turned the golden brown liquid back to sugar. Was I just too impatient?

    2. BadgerKat

      Same. Caramel novice here, and I think my problem was that I misinterpreted the descriptions. I saw bubbles, then saw what looked to me like “bronzed, clear liquid.” Hmmm, did it ever get sandy? Did I just miss that part? Wasn’t sure, so I kept going. Then when it did get seriously sandy, I panicked, convinced that I had somehow missed the actual sandy stage and had just cooked it too long or at too high a temperature. Apparently “fully evaporated” really does mean fully evaporated. (I should have had faith.) Tried moving on and off the heat without seeing results, so just went with it. They taste OK, but don’t have the caramel shell I was hoping for.

      Maybe some approximate times in the directions would help (I realize this will vary depending on different stoves), but I wasn’t too sure how far into the process I should have expected the sandiness.

      1. Erin T

        Times would help a lot. Never made caramel before and it seems like it is taking forever for the liquid to evaporate (15 minutes or so). Perhaps I put the almonds in too soon? I put them in the pot as soon as the water/sugar mix got to a simmer, but well before it turned brown.

  80. Re: French Press… I think It’s worth revisiting, for these reasons:

    Your problem is grind size. French press requires a coarse grind, done with a burr grinder, (buy the good coffee, use the grinder there at the store, dial it all the way to coarse) to avoid the puddle of sludge. That’s an easy problem to solve. Regular pre-ground coffee is ground for drip machines, and it’s too fine for the press.

    But a noteworthy side effect of this grind size, is that there’s actually less extraction of the bitter oils. So it’s just yummier coffee.

    And, crazy simple. No filters, yay!

    That said, I’ve had my eye on the little espresso maker you have up for a while, so I’d love to read your tutorial.

  81. Sara

    I would love an espresso tutorial. I just bought your espresso maker for my husband for Christmas so now to figure out how to use it!

  82. Lara

    1. Best coffee maker ever. Bought one during my studies abroad in Italy and never looked back. However, you really need to be careful with cleaning it and you need to replace all the parts properly after cleaning. I forgot this once and had a coffee explosion on my hands (or better: on my kitchen walls. Repainting ensued.)
    2. About the candy: OH MY GOSH, THEY ARE SO PRETTY. I am usually not a sugar decoration kind of girl but these look so quirky and fun. Also what’s not to love about almonds, caramel and chocolate. These will end up in gift bags this year. Thanks so much for all your great stuff!

  83. Jane M

    Fun list! My favorite was the picture of your sprinkles! HAHA! That NY Cake store is the best even if the owners are meanies! HAHA! I can spend HOURS inside touching and wanting everything but then I snap to and leave with ONLY what I truly need. A girl can dream…

  84. Anne

    Thanks for this, Deb! I made these on a whim yesterday morning since I had all of the ingredients and thought these would be a nice take-along gift for my hairdresser at noon. I found them easy to complete just a portion at a time–I made them to the point of adding the almonds to the chocolate, coated the number I needed in sugar, and then finished the rest later. I just had to reheat the bowl of chocolate/almonds and then pick up where I left off.

  85. Maro

    I , too, had some trouble with the remenlting after sandy stage. I think my problem was doubling the recipe and the pan not being able to stay hot enough to keep things melty. we went back and forth on and off the heat, and the nuts went back and forth from starting to melt down to sandy again, over and over. we finally split the batch into 2 pans and got it as close to melty as possible and then set them out on the sheet to cool. we definitely did not achieve any liquid caramel surrounding the nuts like a brittle, but I’m ok with that as it will make them easier to roll. they broke apart from each other very easily (for the most part).

    we haven’t gone any further in the process yet, but the nuts are delicious (1c almonds, 2c hazels) so far!

    1. Betty

      I finished doing the nuts today – all went well but it was a time-consuming job, especially the last bit.
      Despite having the European sprinkle mountain in my cupboard ( red, white and blue sprinkles, anyone?) I ran out of some before I had finished so I .improvised with freeze-dried raspberry pieces and chopped pistachios – delicious. So far tested by one friend and one husband. Fit to grace anyone’s Christmas stocking. Thank you Deb for another great recipe.

    2. Maro

      finished up. the double batch was, indeed time-consuming to coat with sanding sugar. my partner and i worked on it together and it took over an hour. we did some in layers, but they like to stick to each other so it wasn’t all that much faster in my experience. still, they are pretty and delicious and i can’t wait to gift them, and i would make them again.

      note to self — in absence of white sanding sugar, i used the largest-crystal regular sugar i could find, and added some pearly decorating powder to help amp the frosty white color. otherwise, they looked pretty dull and see-through compared to their colorful compatriots.

    3. Maro

      Tried again this year (using my heavy Lodge enameled pot) and again the sandy stage was very hard to get out of. I finally ended up turning up the heat and covering, as residual heat, low heat, and prayer were not working.

      Next time, I’ll try immediately turning up the heat and covering. waiting to do it meant slightly overcooked caramel once it got melty, and I had to turn it out onto the sheet a little early in the melting stage.

      Note to self: hazelnuts tend to lose the candy coating when breaking apart clumps. Stick with almonds!

  86. Amy

    Aprons do indeed let you spend more time cooking and less time doing laundry. A lovely gift we received 10+ years ago was half a dozen commercial kitchen aprons. They’re lightweight, so they take surprisingly little storage space, and just about anything that gets on them can be bleached right out. Ours still look new. Having several means that even after an ambitious ganache project there’s another clean one ready with no downtime for laundry.

  87. Joan Hersh

    this recipe was a disaster. the nuts stuck to the bottom of my very heavy saucepan and some of them burned. i stirred them constantly except during the dreaded ‘sandy’ stage, when they are impossible to move around. why not make the caramel (still w/o a thermometer) and THEN add the nuts off heat? and then proceed with the rest of the recipe.

  88. Rachel

    I made these but doubled the recipe. Boy that sandy step happens all of the sudden! I might not recommend doubling the recipe as these were a pretty huge time suck to decorate! Wish I’d read the comment about laying the almonds in a bowl and stacking layers of sprinkles and nuts. That sounds like a good work around. I ended up sugar coating some (the most tedious option) and cocoa powdering most of the others while not even dipping about an 8th of them in chocolate because by that point I was very over it. Still. They are delicious and no candy thermometer! Winning. Thanks Deb!

  89. Heather Greaves

    What a great recipe. I, too, must have salt in caramel. When I read this it started a ‘must have NOW’ in me. Sadly, due to a shopping list failure, I had no almonds but I found some raw cashews in the cupboard. Fortunately I had them made and cool about a hour before the family came home – so I got to try a couple [or 3] but that was it – they were gone before dinner time.
    This will become a tradition as a gift at Christmas time – so easy – so yummy.
    PS – I found the cashews were a bit softer that the almonds that I bought the next day and tried – my family actually said they preferred the cashews.

  90. Meleyna

    Love my 5 qt. braiser. It’s also perfect for boiling long pasta–smaller volume of water comes to a boil faster, starchier pasta water, and a full pound still fits perfectly!

  91. semicircle66

    So…I made the caramel crunch almonds and I found this to be a LOT OF WORK. Delicious, yes. Maybe because I tried to make 4 batches for gifting … the caramelization process took forever and the amount of hand mixing was really taxing. The chocolate dipping and rolling in sugar was super messy and took a long time as well. I finally gave up, spread the remaining melted chocolate on parchment in a jelly roll pan, sprinkled with a touch of sea salt and spread out some of the candied almonds on top for a sort of “bark”. The rest will go as naked gifts. Thanks for the recipe, Deb, but this took too much of my day…

  92. Kim

    Oh, this recipe is a no-go. Never again. And that’s a first for recipes from Deb’s site. I really wanted this to work, but not only was it super time-consuming, it did not turn out well at all.

    I cooked past the “sandy” stage, or so I thought, only have it to “sand up” again when I poured them on the tray. So, I decided they’d be chocolate coated “praline” almonds (not crunchy), but then the coating was not working out and was very tedious, so I opted for praline almond bark, pouring the chocolate over the almonds.

    I feel like it was a waste of time and money!

  93. Canadian

    This is a lot more work than it seems- and I haven’t even finished it yet. I made one batch as written in my le creuset. It didn’t end up a nice glossy caramel after the sand stage. I made a double batch in my stainless steel stock pot. It worked a lot better. Just to make the caramel took about 30 min. I am dipping them another night.
    Two of my silicon spatulas also fell apart in the process. Definitely learn from my mistake and stir with a wooden spoon.
    I am planning on giving these out as gifts- to make the amount I need is going to take a long time!

  94. Victoria

    I made these for Christmas gifts. I initially thought I would make a double batch but stuck with a single one in case I messed something up. They turned out great, but as others mentioned the sprinkle process was quite long. Might try the layering tip when I give it another shot. It would be a shame if I went through this whole recipe and didn’t leave a snack sized portion for myself. Delicious btw!

  95. Jenn

    When making the caramel I got to a point where all the liquid evaporated and I had a caramel-looking sand coating the almonds. Could not get it to dissolve again, just got more and more sandy. What am I doing wrong? Did I take it too far?

  96. Alena

    I make milk caramels every year for the holidays and have made regular caramel often. I mistakenly assumed my experience would translate into an easy new treat to add to the mix. Not at all. Most of my sugar never returned to liquid from the sandy state. I wound up with a total of 37 almonds I felt safe enough to dip in chocolate and roll in sugar. The sugar on the others is so hard I’m genuinely concerned people would break a tooth on them.

    Deb – did you try toasting the almonds in the oven then mixing them into completed caramel? Does the temperature difference cause the caramel to instantly seize?

  97. Karen Wirkala

    Do you know what the colored sprinkles are made of? Is there such a thing as real chocolate sprinkles that are colored? Or are they all wax & food coloring?

  98. Megan S.

    So I made these yesterday and there were certainly challenges. I started out doubling the recipe and really wish I didn’t. When I got to the “sandy” stage it became very challenging to stir, and it took a lot longer than expected to remelt, which it finally did. I had trouble transferring to the pan for separation and cooling and ended up doing a break apart when it came out of the freeze. Then the nuts cooled my chocolate too quickly when added.

    I also found I used ALOT of sprinkles, but they did look beautiful. Once I got tired I switched to powered sugar, since I’m not a huge fan of the bitterness of cocoa. Big plus, I used the powered sugar in a baggie and could coat 10-12 at once without sticking. It really speeds things up. They tasted great, but we’re more labor intentsive than I expected.

  99. These are amazing! I just made my first batch and they are beautiful. I probably have 2-3 more batches in my future for gift giving. I just want to say that your comment about the “sandy” step is possibly the most important sentence you have written all year. :)

  100. Lauren

    Hi, So I tried to makes these tonight, everything was going fine… and then the sugar turn sandy and stuck to the almonds like Bavarian nuts and never re-melted. They are very toasted and super crunchy, are they bad? No, but could they be better…Yes. What did I do wrong?

    1. Julie

      I had the same thing happen. It took a long time to come out of the sandy stage. I was seriously panicking. Stick with it and turn the heat up . I was afraid not to stir contantly. It will remelt. Remove once melted and spread out.

  101. Amy

    Hey Deb –
    I’ve made three batches of the almonds now and each batch is far less liquidy then as I see in your picture. That said, I’m taking them off of the heat as they are starting to burn So maybe I’m not letting the sand liquify enough?

  102. Julie

    I just made this! You’re right about all the stages (bubbly, sandy, bronzed caramel). I’m doing on a glass top stove and the cook time was different…it took a half an hour+ but I think a nice consistant flame would have made it a lot faster and easier. Thanks for the lovely candy recipe. yum!

  103. Anna

    I’m with the group that had a little trouble with the sandy phase. Once the sugar syrup got sandy, it was really difficult to get it to melt into the liquid caramel. All the while I could smell the almonds roasting,which was exciting but also terrifying as they got closer and closer to burning territory! The end product was awesome, and definitely very popular at the event I brought them to, but definitely at a “max” toasted level.

  104. Erin

    I have that same coffee maker that I received as a gift eons ago… I have not used it since. I would love a tutorial on how you use it to make your morning coffee, as a refresher. I only ever used it for cappuccinos or lattes. Even though it says Espresso maker do you use regular ground coffee ? Buy beans and grind them yourself? I switch around from our drip coffee maker to our french press but am never really thrilled with the results. Anyways, maybe your demo will.inspire me to start using mine again. Thanks

  105. Oh my. The Piemont silverware just arrived and it is *lovely*. Perfect. Clean design, no silly frippery that needs cleaning with a toothbrush, beautiful looking, well-balanced, functional (every piece! and, yes, the spoons. Scoopy!), and who ever heard of getting eight place settings (count ’em, 8!) for a mere $130 for something that looks like it’s out of the MOMA catalog.

    Thank you for a great suggestion.

  106. Thanks for the recipe! I wish I had caramelized these in a wider-bottomed pan (like the one in your photos), as opposed to the saucepan that I used. It was a little tricky to keep stirring them all as I waited for the sugar to melt again, so I wasn’t patient enough to get them as caramelly as yours. But they are tasty and lovely nonetheless! My father-in-law (and the rest of the fam) will love these.

  107. erin

    I love you Deb. Without exaggeration, I’ve probably made 100 of your recipes. Never a real complaint and never commented here before. But this recipe almost had me in tears. Admittedly I tripled it for teacher gifts, which may have been the source of my frustration. End result is burnt-ish, but still sandy almonds. I still love you (obviously) but won’t be revisiting this recipe.

  108. Just curious if you had heard of the Soup for Syria cookbook? A lot of big hitters contributed recipes and it could be a great gift for someone looking to give a neat gift while also having a bigger impact. I just heard about it and don’t have any affiliation with it; just liked the concept.

  109. Susan J.

    I think you have to be crazy to make this. Too much work, pain in the neck, very messy and they don’t even turn out that well. Can make much nicer nut treats a lot more easily.

  110. Kate

    I made these yesterday and I was nervous but it worked out great, with only a few almonds lost due to an un-stirrred corner of the pot burning. Patience was critical when waiting for the sandy stage to morph back into melted sugar.

    My advice is to use a wider rather than taller pot if possible, which makes it easier to stir without worrying about 3rd degree burns or getting one giant ball of solid sugar.

    The sanding sugar coating is the best, and while it isn’t quick, it’s easy and with a second pair of hands moves fast.

    Totally worth it. These are delicious!

  111. Lisa

    Made these once and loved them (although it was time-consuming, as others have said)…this morning I thought I’d try again with a larger soup pot that seemed more like the one you used in your pictures. Disaster – the sugar seized and never remelted. The bottoms just burned. I would definitely use a smaller pot if I were making them again…but I’m kind of mad at myself for having to throw away the ruined ingredients, so we’ll see. Candy-making is hard…

  112. Kat

    Hi Deb! My first time caramelizing sugar… “sandy” do you mean it has literally turned back into sugar? Or, are you past the point of no return when it gets to that stage? I never really felt like it got “sandy”, but it did get thick and caramel-y looking. I think I went too far past that point. Can you provide a few more details for a first-timer? Can’t wait to get it right, because they look delicious!

  113. Garlic + Zest

    This is the first holiday “gift guide” that I’ve read from start to finish and really makes me want to purchase some items. I love your take on sprinkles, too. My daughter is 21 so we’re kind of past sprinkling everything, but I still have young nephews!

  114. Heidi

    Best directions ever–“you will think something has gone terribly wrong”–yep, would’ve thrown the whole thing away had you not written this. Should’ve used a larger and heavier pot as shown in the pictures–my 2 quart revere-ware pot was hard to stir after it reached the sand point. So far so good, though. It’s –7 degrees outside so I think these will cool off quickly! ;-)

  115. Ana

    I made these today. The carmamel worked fine for me, but using sprinkles made them SO overly sweet (think putting a sugar cube in your mouth and biting into it!). I just stuck with cocoa; to take away a little of the bitterness I mixed in a small amount of powdered sugar.

    They took forever to finish – 1 hour is if your almonds are huge – start to finish took me about 2 hours.

  116. Whew. These almonds!!!! It took me three tries and an enormous blister on my hand (from grabbing the handle of the pot after failing to notice that a hot almond had fallen on it while transferring them to the baking sheet) to get them right. After the sandy stage I could not get the sugar to fully melt without burning the almonds. I even started with raw almonds. Can’t imagine residual heat ever remelting the sugar, and wish I could watch you making these. What I finally did to make them work was to toast the almonds in the oven, and make the caramel separately, adding the almonds to it after it was ready. The slight problem with this was that my almonds had cooled a bit by the time I added them to the caramel, so the caramel seized up a bit and needed some more time to liquefy. That batch almost burned too, and my almonds were more like almond clusters, but I’m still counting it as a success. They are delicious and pretty, but I might not have it in me to make them again.

  117. Kathryn

    Never posted before, but have to because there are so many negative comments. I loved this recipe!! Yes it was a lot of work to roll each chocolate almond in the sugar. And yes I did cut my finger while breaking up the crunchy caramel almonds before the chocolate step – be careful! Oh and about half the almonds remained stuck together. But who cares – the result was WOW. For gifts this year I made these, some cookies, and some marshmallows, and these are by far the star – delicious, beautiful, and everyone asks “how did you do this!?”

  118. Kate

    I had similar trouble as the other reviewers the first time I made them – couldn’t get the sugar to re-melt completely after the sandy stage and had to stop when the almonds were almost burnt. They still tasted great and the toasty sugar clumped on them but didn’t look anything like what I was expecting – didn’t even need to be broken apart. The second time, I roasted the almonds alone first, then made the caramel all the way up through the second melting stage with just the sugar, then added the almonds, and it worked great – I got them to look just like Deb’s. This is just one extra step but was worth it to have control over the two different processes independently and avoid burning the nuts. It also did not require so much stirring during the re-melting phase.
    I think probably the problem was my cooking setup couldn’t transfer heat to the sugar fast enough when it was stuck to the almonds. I have a ceramic cooktop, not gas.

  119. Anna

    I made these last night and went to bed a bit frustrated. I was able to get past the sandy stage (verrrry helpful instructions!) so the almonds have been successfully caramelized. But I had trouble dipping in chocolate and only just “coating” the nuts. What ended up happening was a gloopy chocolatey mess, which then led to even gloopier nuts in the sanding sugar. Any advice here? Admittedly, I am a total candy making novice, so I’m thinking it has to be something with the chocolate. I used chocolate from a cooking store that doesn’t need tempering. I’d love any input/advice!

  120. Carolyn

    I made these for the second time in 2 weeks last night. This time I coated them in white chocolate and dusted them with cocoa powder. Because the white chocolate is sweeter, I didn’t need to add any sprinkles/sanding sugar. This recipe is a complete keeper.

  121. Shauna

    I made a batch of the almonds last night with a friend and it helped to have a 2nd pair of hands. Kept the heat on a steady medium and stirred fairly frequently. Took a while for the water to bubble off but everything went well. Another way to describe the sandy phase is maybe that the almonds look dry and crusty, and as they got to that point, sugar did also crystallize/crust up the sides of the pan, but then it all melted into caramel as described in the recipe and never burned. Put about a cup each of pearlized sanding sugars in separate rectangular tupperware containers and tossed several chocolate-covered almonds in the sugar at once with a fork (keeping the forks used to lift almonds out of the melted chocolate separate from forks used in the sanding sugars), shaking the tupperware to distribute the sugar. Will be making 5 more batches this week, though will do one batch all the way through at a time, would not recommend doubling the batch. I’d say the chocolate is the most subtle note, and the sanding sugar definitely gives a good crunch without being too sweet. They’re very pretty and festive. Thanks for a fun recipe.

    1. Cate Concannon

      I think yours is the best description of the “sandy phase”. Sadly, I did not let mine get that far, thinking somehow I had missed it. Plus, I think my almonds were added too early — these were a fresh bag of nuts but they ended up strange and chewy — as I would imagine boiled peanuts to be. Not great. And my husband, who likes everything, agreed they just weren’t right. I tossed the majority of them without finishing. Anyone else experience chewy boiled nuts?

  122. mccannjlgmail

    I made these today, and have to say that the comments had me scared! But Deb, I found your directions were spot on. Taking the sugar thru the “sandy” stage to re-liquefy just requires patience, exactly as you warned. After that, the rest was a breeze! After coating with chocolate, I moved 5-6 at a time to separate bowls of sprinkles (used red, green, white, silver and multi-colored) and just used a spoon to toss and coat. (Maybe I’m not as fussy as everyone else?) They came out gorgeous! I would occasionally put the chocolate coated almonds back over a bain marie if they started hardening at all, to re-soften. I can’t wait to GIVE (not GIFT, sorry, pet peeve!) them for christmas! thanks for a lovely, pretty simple recipe!

  123. joanneshenk

    Where did you get those adorable candy jars? They are perfect for gift giving (obviously for next year at this point!). Happy Holidays.

  124. Lisa

    Mine never got grainy and remelted but was getting to be a fairly dark, thick liquid caramel so I just decided they were done. They were sticky and I had a really hard time getting them in smaller clumps but they broke apart later on. Even before I put them in chocolate my family was all over them. I think I’m going to have to make another batch before Christmas. Also, don’t turn away from the pot. In mere seconds I almost scorched it all but was able to toss out a small spoonful that was getting burnt. Homemade candy is time consuming because there is science happening. It’s fun though! Thanks for the recipe.

  125. Margie s

    I’ve never made candy before, so I didn’t dare try doubling the recipe. It took a bit longer than I would have thought to do the caramelizing, but it eventually behaved just like Deb said it would. The dipping steps can be done from a seated position yay, but I would recommend breaking the nuts into two-nut clusters to cut down on how many units need to be dipped. I took them into work as holiday treats, boy were they a hit! I’m a goddess!

  126. Linda Martin

    These are really interesting, Deb. It felt like it would never get to the ‘sandy’ stage, then never get to the caramel stage. But it did. Takes a bit of patience and strength stirring (glad I lift weights ;) ). I really like the taste of the almonds with the caramel on it alone. Kind of like toffee almonds. I actually will leave them this way next time. I do agree with folks, it’s kind of tedious to dip them, etc. Thanks for the recipe :) Happy Hannukah!

  127. Nope. All the nope.

    We tried this recipe 3 times.

    The first one never made it to the sandy stage. The second one burned on the way out of the sandy stage. The third was flirting with burned when we got it off the stove and onto the mats. Listing some temperatures would be a great help, as would a note about not ever ever ever making more than a single batch at a time.

    Then we tried dipping.

    They look like glittery cat poo, and the combination of textures from chocolate, sugar, nut and caramel coating is unpleasant and off putting.

  128. Erica

    I doubled the recipe and made these for gifts this year. I had the same problem as a bunch of others where the sugar did not want to reliquify after the sand stage. My nuts didn’t burn though (medium heat) but I was also adding a tablespoon or so of water every so often to help the sugar melting round two along. Separating them into individual nuts was a pain though. Same with rolling them in the sprinkles. They are tasty though.

  129. Jules

    Mazel on the website redesign!

    I have to say, though, I really miss the links from previous years on the same date. It helped me find new deliciousness I didn’t know I needed to find/make/consume. Would you consider bringing that back?

    1. deb

      Hi Jules — Thank you! I haven’t stopped them, but I might have skipped them for this post (they should be on all the others) because there were so many other links. I thought nobody would notice. ;)

  130. Patricia

    I’ve made these twice and people have raved about how addictive they are. I rolled them in cocoa powder but next year I’ll hunt down some other coating that’s a little less dry. Thank you for sharing this recipe, Deb. Happy new year to you and yours!

  131. Red

    These looked so pretty and delicious, I just had to try making them, despite comments warning about caramel difficulties, time-consuming rolling, and underwhelming taste. I *did* modify it by making a dry caramel, cooking it to a medium golden brown BEFORE adding the (already toasted) salted nuts. This seemed to work pretty well — the nuts were evenly coated, and the caramel only had slight variations in color when I turned everything out onto the baking sheet. It was still a sticky mess, more of a continuous lump of nuts, so I had to separate and fiddle with pulling them apart in a single layer while they were still hot.

    The final result was tasty — not my personal favorite thing in the world, but very good and met with rave reviews. I think they were pretty when rolled in rainbow nonpareils, but I couldn’t get the image of “glam kitty litter” out of my head after a previous commenter mentioned it…!

  132. Karen Sullivan

    Hedley & Bennett – my life is changed. They have Petite, cross-back aprons! I begrudgingly wear an apron only when company is coming, but I am constantly pulling back on the neck strap (large busted) to keep from getting a headache! Otherwise I have “cooking clothes” – stained, mostly. My apron will arrive Friday and I am so excited – it was on sale, and 10% off the first purchase. Still a bit expensive, but if it saves one shirt from irreversible staining it will be worth it!

  133. Tania

    Hi Deb !! I’m a great fan of yours, and admire your great taste on kitchen items.
    We decided to get the Weber grill, I just have this big dilemma on how to store the cylinder propane bottles when they are unfinished. We also leave in a apartment and have our small grill on our balcony.

    1. deb

      Unfinished? We leave ours on the grill (but totally turned off). When they’re done, I admit that we bring them to my in-laws to recycle because we don’t want to draw attention to the fact that we’re keeping a grill and are not supposed to. And thank you. :)

  134. senselessviolins

    As an advocate of proper comma usage, the photo accompanying Item #5 made me laugh. It’s like a cautionary tale out of a grammar textbook:

    Let’s Eat Mom!
    Let’s Eat, Mom!

  135. Laura Ivy

    Bialetti makes a 1 cup, I use my grandfathers which I had to replace the filter but it totally brings back so many childhood memories for me. Totally making these nuts! I love those jars too!
    Also you must get this cool knife gadget to protect from injury when washing them. It’s by Kitchenwise and it’s called a Skrub. You can seriously look away and not lose a finger. On Amazon or their website

  136. Debbie CZ

    Addition to the Kitchen List: these aren’t pretty, not even in a quirky way but what started as a joke has become an essential tool. Our large family does a gift exchange (Yankee Swap) for Christmas, often with a theme. One year the gift had to be an item that was advertised “as seen on TV”. Think Shamoo cloth. I ended up with the Ov Glove. I now have 4. They enable me to get a firm grip on roasting pans, Dutch ovens, cookie sheets, etc. I’ve gifted them to older relatives who have mobility issues. Pot holders never seem thick enough but these gloves I love. A perfect stocking stuffer too.

  137. Christian

    Bizarre cooking injury: i made these today and cut myself on a rough caramel-edge. Otherwise it worked pretty well, the caramel wasn’t perfect but I think because my pot was smaller than advised (I’m a student, I don’t own many pots …) the nuts didn’t get even heat. Perhaps this is what resulted in razor-sharp almonds of doom? Either way, I had to eat a few because I bled on them.

  138. Lauren

    I must have done something wrong, but my sugar never ended up getting sandy, and just got really dark and started smoking, so I took it off the heat at that point. Did anyone else find that it was impossible to break the bark into individual almonds without the almonds themselves crumbling?

  139. Christa

    I’ve been reading reviews on sanding sugar (which I have never used) and most people say it tastes awful. Anyone else agree? For those who have made, what was your favorite sugar coating? I want to make for teacher gifts this year!

  140. Michelle

    I have a question about the almonds – are you stirring the sugar syrup the whole time. Or letting it sit, adding almond and then stirring? stirring the whole time? It says ‘continue stirring’ – but I’m not sure when I start.

  141. annthebrave

    I am so excited to make these, but I know I’m going to mess up the caramel if I don’t have a temperature to aim for. Could you pretty pretty please list a temperature goal? You can even bury it somewhere and then only people who search the page for “temperature” will find it. I know that candy thermometers scare some people, but I have had way more failures when I don’t use the thermometer!

    Thank you for being such a reliable inspiration for delicious treats!

    1. deb

      Thank you, but the temperature does not matter here. Temperature matters when you need caramels to hold a shape or other sugar confections. Get it to a light, clear bronze and you’re good.

  142. MMColorado

    For the almonds, I can’t imagine you use unsweetened cocoa powder…or do you? If not, what kind of (sweetened) cocoa powder do you recommend? Thanks!

  143. Monica

    I’ve made 3 batches of these caramel chocolate crunch nuts this month: 1 with almonds and 2 with hazelnuts. They’re the hit of the year and the hazelnut ones are especially amazing! To keep them from burning, I boiled the sugar syrup down quite a bit before adding the hazelnuts. Worked perfectly.

  144. Sandra Jauregui

    Your recipe for the chocolate caramel crunch almonds looks awesome! Could you please advise as to the brand of the 4 qt saucepan you used to make this? Also where you suggest to purchase it?

  145. Janice M

    These are delicious. I used chocolate sprinkles, decorative sugar and nonpareils for toppings. However, I found that coating the almonds with chocolate and then the toppings was very time consuming. The chocolate kept cooling down too much and I needed to reheat the almonds and chocolate in the microwave a few times, despite working as fast as possible. I was worried that I would melt off the caramel as I kept reheating the chocolate. If I make these again, I would place maybe a third of the almonds in the chocolate at a time, reheat and place another third, etc.

  146. strawberryrhubarb

    After a disastrous attempt last year, I made these successfully this year!

    I suspect this might be a temperature issue if you never get past the sandy stage. Deb says to “simmer” the sugar and water, which to me meant cook over a low heat – this temprature works until the sugar goes sandy. Once it progresses through wet sand to looking like actual beach sand, I turned my stove up to medium high and stirred every 10 seconds or so. within a few minutes some of the sugar started to melt at the bottom. It took 10 minutes or so, but the sugar all melted and became liquid as described. I left it on the heat to melt, but the odd time I got a whiff of burning I pulled it off and kept stirring and it turned out perfectly. I have a flat top electric range, and I believe Deb has gas, which may account for this difference.

    Pro tip: make an effort to separate the almonds when spreading them out on the baking sheet. You may think “Oh I can just break them apart once they’ve cooled” except if you’re me the sharp caramel will cut you and you’ll have to throw out part of a batch because you bled on it.

    1. Nicole

      Second the bleeding. I couldn’t get them all separate enough before it was too cooled off. Now I don’t think I’ll include these in my holiday goodie trays. Afraid someone will cut their mouth. And I was even trying to grind little sharp edges off when I was separating them. They do taste great and I love the caramel crunch. But they are not for giving to the unknowing.

  147. Laura

    These were my first Smitten Kitchen failure. First, the caramel took way longer to harden in the freezer than the recipe said, and so I think ultimately I took them out too soon. Then the chocolate I used just wouldn’t get smooth enough. I am so sad but I will definitely try again with different chocolate and maybe cook the caramel longer. Advice is welcome!