THE MARCONA ALMONDS FROM TARRAGONA ARE PERHAPS THE BEST IN THE WORLD. FLAT OVAL AT ONE END AND POINTED AT THE OTHER, THEY ARE CRUNCHY TO THE TOOTH AND MELT INTO A CREAMY PASTE IN THE MOUTH. THEY SAY YOU CAN’T IMPROVE ON PERFECTION, BUT THE DELICATE COATING OF SUGAR CRYSTALS THEY ARE GIVEN IN THIS RECIPE WOULD SURELY COME CLOSE. IT’S A FAIRLY TRICKY METHOD TO GET RIGHT — IT TOOK ME A FEW GOES! — SO DON’T BE DISCOURAGED BY ANY EARLY DISAPPOINTMENTS.
Put the almonds, sugar and
Remove from the heat and allow just the very edge of the frying pan to remain in contact with the heat. Crystals will appear on the side of the pan — stir these into the mixture to hasten the crystallisation.
Stir the mixture continuously until it begins to thicken — you will feel more resistance and crystals will begin to form. Remove from the heat and continue mixing as it cools. Larger crystals will form around the nuts, and the bits that do not stick to the nuts will have the appearance of breadcrumbs.
Stir for another 2 minutes, then return to the stovetop over high heat. The sugar will begin to melt and part of it will start to caramelise.
When there is a fine layer of caramel over some of the crystals, remove the pan from the heat and pour the mixture over a silicon slip mat or a baking tray lined with baking paper. Do not allow more than one-fifth of the crystals to melt before removing from the heat.
Allow to cool completely before serving with tea, coffee, fortified wine or sweet sherry. The almonds will keep for up to 2 weeks in an airtight container.
© 2009 All rights reserved. Published by Murdoch Books.