The smell of gebrannte Mandeln says Dult (=small fun fair) and Volksfest, Kettenkarussell and Dosenwerfen. And now it also says Kocherlball – Biergarten atmosphere in the wee hours before sunrise – and stirring until your arm gets sore.
In Munich you can buy them at any event that remotely resembles a fair. At Oktoberfest there are tiny stalls that sell all kinds of candied nuts – and make enough money in two weeks to feed their families for the rest of the year. At least that’s the word on the street.
They even sold gebrannte Mandeln at Kocherlball this weekend. They were ok. What was much more delicious were the ones we had brought.
gebrannte Mandeln – candied almonds
makes 500g (= 4 paper bags)
- 300 g almonds with skin
- 200 g fine sugar
- 100 ml water
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon powder
- 1 pod vanilla
Prep is important here – you don’t want to be Fiddling around with the cooling rack or realising your pot is too small once the sugar started melting, so get everything ready in advance. That includes:
- a baking tray lined with parchment paper (or any other flat thing) to cool the almonds in
- a pot that’s easy to hold on to and that’s large enough to hold all of the ingredients even when you stir frantically
- an oven kit to hold the pot while stirring
- a flat-nosed sturdy spatula, a wooden one would be best
Put the water, roughly ⅔ of the sugar and the cinnamon in the pot an bring it to a boil (no need to stir). Meanwhile, slice open the vanilla pod, scrape out the seeds and mix them with the remaining sugar (I stick the empty pod in a jar together with some superfine sugar to make my own vanilla sugar).
Once the water is boiling, add the almonds and start stirring. In the beginning, go light – you’ll need that power in your arm. After a while, the water will reduce further and further. Keep stirring until all the water evaporated and the almonds look pretty dry. In a few moments the sugar will start melting and the almonds will look wet again. Once you got that sugar melting across the batch, add the remaining sugar with the vanilla – and stirrrr. Be careful, because the melted sugar is quite hot – no nibbling!
Keep stirring until the sugar melted again throughout the batch and the almonds have a grainy, somewhat evenly covered coating. Then scrape the almonds onto the parchment paper and spread out a little. Let them cool completely, for maybe 1 hour.
The paper bags are super important for the whole experience of eating gebrannte Mandeln. And they are so much fun! And super easy to make. The hardest part is deciding on a paper. Bicoloured patterns or plain white are the traditional choice, but hey! – no one will complain if you go a little crazy on it!
Cut out squares plus 1 cm for glueing. Mine were 20 cm by 21 cm and I used 4 bags for one batch of 500 g. Fold the paper into triangles leaving the 1cm glue strip show. Glue it (with a glue stick). Done!
One bag can hold 100 to 150 g. To fold them up, fold down the short side onto the almonds first. Then fold down the points end. It’ll look a bit like a fox’s head. Then fold down the “ears” and secure by bending the pointy end back towards the back of the “head” and slip it under the “ears” to secure it.