Cloche Amandine

Bell-Shaped Almond Brittle

Croquante, or cloche amandine, is usually served at Christmas and Easter in Provence. It is placed in the center of the table and everyone breaks off little pieces of it to nibble on. Leftovers are crushed and used on top of baked apples or pears or on ice cream.

Ingredients

  • enough shelled nuts to make cups finely minced almonds or a mixture of hazelnuts and almonds
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup honey (the best you can find)
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 lemon, cut in half
  • 8 tablespoons butter

Method

Preheat the oven to 300°. Place the shelled but unpeeled almonds on a cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes until brown. Remove from the oven and mince them finely. Put them back in a turned-off oven.

Bring the sugars, honey, and water to a boil and stir with a wooden spoon. When the mixture has heated to 300° add the butter and the warm nuts and pour onto a greased surface (marble or formica counter, aluminum cookie sheet, or aluminum foil). Smooth out and push with the 2 halves of the lemon until the entire sheet is very thin—from ⅛ to ¼ inch thick. Lift off the sheet before it is completely cooled and hardened and mold it against the inside of a buttered marble or china mortar or a wide bowl. Let it cool, then unmold on a platter. It will look like a golden bell.

You may decorate it with crystallized violets or mimosa flowers (on sale in gourmet shops) or candied fruits or dribbles of icing. I prefer it plain.

Keep the leftover pieces wrapped in aluminum foil or in a closed glass jar. Never refrigerate.