AUSTRIA GERMANY SWITZERLAND
They are crispy and sweet, very addictive, and are probably the world’s oldest confection. They are sugared nuts, almonds in particular, which were a favourite treat with the ancient Romans. Sugared almonds were given as gifts and according to Maguelonne Toussaint-Samat they were distributed at private and public ceremonies.
Almonds and hazelnuts have been coated in a syrup made originally from honey, then from molasses and nowadays beet or cane sugar, and served as a festive treat for countless centuries.
These days it is the method that is a keen subject for debate and the amount of sugar. Once apon a time the ratio was 3:2 in favour of sugar, now it is 3:2 or 2:1 in favour of the nuts, mostly almonds, especially in central, northern and western Europe.
From Italy the idea of combining spices with sugar and coating almonds and pine kernels with the caramelised mixture caught on in France, where these confections became associated with fairs and festivals.
In the Germanic countries, cinnamon, sugar, vanilla-flavoured sugar and water are brought to the boil, almonds are added and slowly cooked in the syrup. The coated nuts are poured out onto a sheet greased with butter, separated and left to cool.
In England the nuts are roasted in the oven and then added hot to a sugar and water syrup. Because of the formation of acrylamide, a chemical identified as a possible carcinogen, during the roasting of almonds the oven temperature should be at 129°C or lower.
The Spanish largueta almond is regarded as the perfect variety for this delicious confection, because of its intense flavour.
This is the German version with reduced sugar.
200 g largueta almonds, unpeeled 50 g sugar 50 g vanilla sugar 50 ml water 5 g cinnamon Butter, for greasing
Boil the sugars with cinnamon and water, add almonds and cook over a low heat stirring constantly until the water has been absorbed and the sugar begins to dry. Spoon the sugared almonds onto a buttered baking sheet. Separate the almonds with two forks, leave to cool.