I must confess that whenever I have a deadline and intensive thought and concentration is required, there are four things I must have: solitude, a clean place to work, music or TV in the background (I just can't work in absolute silence), and something to munch on. During these times, I'm more inclined to skip heavier meals in favor of continuously feeding on light snacks both to keep the energy going and also in order to avoid a sugar crash.
In as much as I love junk food, the fact is that not only is it not good for me health wise, I'd also need a whole lot of bags for these work marathons. It's both impractical and ultimately literally sickening.
My pantry almost always has an assortment of nuts, dried fruit, dark and white chocolate. Whenever I'm in the mood to indulge (and yes, sometimes that's in the middle of the night), I know it takes exactly 14 minutes to get a batch of cookies made. Part of the fun is figuring out what combination of ingredients will make the perfect cookie at that particular moment, to satisfy that particular craving.
I like to make my own chocolate bars, too. And chocolate covered bacon, of course. Then there are days when homemade spiced nuts, either savory or sweet, just fit the beak. Today was one of those moments.
1 1/2 cup raw almonds
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
kosher salt (and coarse sea salt if desired)
freshly ground pepper
TIP: If you don't have one, buy yourself a silicone mat. If you love making chocolate and candies like I do, it makes life much easier.
Place a large heavy pan on stove in high heat. Wait until pan is really hot (almost smoking) then turn the heat down a little. Place raw almonds to roast, turning every so often so as to evenly roast and not burn. Add kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Add a dash of cayenne pepper.
When nuts have turned a darker color brown (and should be fragrant), add honey. Add butter. Keep tossing until the liquid turns very dark. (Technically, the best way is to do the honey and butter in a separate pot and wait until your candy thermometer reaches the hard candy stage. But who has time for that?). Just be careful not to burn the sugar. Take off heat and pour flat on a silicone mat. Wait a few minutes until fairly cool and tacky. Garnish with coarse sea salt.
*The one pictured is also garnished with decorating sugar, which I always have handy when baking cakes for my nephews and nieces. I also rolled the almonds into separate clusters. Enjoy!
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