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There are many things I associated with Advent/Christmas time growing up in Germany. But none more than the deliciously enticing smell of fresh “burnt” almonds walking through a Christkindlmarkt (German Christmas markets). They are actually quite easy to make at home, and presented in cute little cellophane or paper cone bags, they make lovely favors or hostess gifts around this time of year, too!
Use a heavy saucepan (NOT the nonstick kind) and a wooden spoon.
First add the water, 1 cup of sugar and the cinnamon and stir. Bring it to a boil over medium heat. Add the almonds to the mix, raise the temperature to high heat and stir CONSTANTLY until the water is boiled away.
The sugar will dry out a little but start to stick to the almonds. Keep stirring them around, so that the almonds don’t burn on the bottom of the pan.
Turn the heat under the pan to medium-low, to keep the sugar from browning too fast. Keep stirring until the almonds start having an even shiny coat.
Don’t be distracted by the heavenly aroma that is enveloping your kitchen—you need your full concentration on the task!
Now dump in the rest of your sugar. Keep stirring, and add your vanilla. At this point, I like to mention that if you have vanilla sugar or a powdered type of vanilla flavoring, do feel free to use that over the liquid kind. It tends to work better. If you do, mix it with the 1/3 of a cup of sugar you are using for the second lot of sugar.
At this point, there might be quite some noise ensuing from your pan. Some crackling and popping, but hopefully no snapping. It depends on how fresh your almonds were. Really fresh almonds will make a popping noise and the coat may start to crack. That’s the water in the almonds escaping. If the almonds are older, there won’t be as much of that!
Keep stirring until the almonds are fairly shiny, but still a bit lumpy. You don’t want them completely smooth. The best ones are the ones that are shiny in some areas with some delicious lumps of cinnamon sugar on other parts of the almond.
As soon as you see that happening, take them off the heat and transfer the almonds to a sheet of parchment paper. Spread them apart as much as you can, but don’t worry about some of them sticking together initially. BE CAREFUL, however. These are extremely hot, so only use a spoon. These babies can really burn you!
While they are cooling down, keep on breaking them apart with your spoon(s) until they are all separated. Fair warning: these are totally divine when they are still ever-so-slightly warm. There, you’ve been warned!
Once they are cooled, hide (ahem, I meant store) them in a dry, closed container. Theoretically, they keep for several weeks. I’ve never had an opportunity to test that theory.
Epiphany is celebrated on January 6, and commemorates the Magi’s visit to the Christ Child. Growing up, our church would celebrate with Epiphany Cakes, which were filled with trinkets signifying different things. A fun way to celebrate the twelve day of Christmas with your kids! (Note: Be careful with small objects; make sure kids know they’re in the cake.)
These would be the perfect cookies to make with kids on Christmas eve to set out for Santa! Not only are they cute and fun, but they’re absolutely delicious. A soft and chewy sugar cookie base with cream cheese frosting, white chocolate, chocolate chips, marshmallows and sprinkles!
The main thing to remember about peppernuts is that they are tiny, about a third to a half inch, no larger. Peppernuts are a tradition in many German families. They came to our area with the Mennonite immigration in the 1870′s. Imagine generations of people grabbing a handful or two of peppernuts and munching away and you have a tradition worth continuing.
Nancy is the Coupon Clipping Cook, which means she not only has an astounding number of recipes to share with us (her TK recipe box is busting at the seams!) but she's also got loads of money-saving tips in her blog (she worked at a grocery store for a number of years, so she knows her stuff). She has some pretty amazing creations, like Roasted Garlic Potato Soup and Nutty Coconut Chicken. Go check them out!
Heather is a Texas native and the blogger behind Heather's Dish. She's mom to Weston, wife to Nate, and they live in Little Rock, Arkansas with their two "stubborn and saucy" dogs Bunker and Keira. In her blog, she shares her photographs, random musings (serious and silly alike), and all kinds of scrumptious recipes---and not just evil variations of her favorite mac and cheese. Her enviable TK recipe box is a testament to that. Go see for yourself!