A traditional German Festive treat -Gebrannte Mandeln recipe

If you have ever visited a German Christmas market chances are you will have smelled the sweet aroma of Gebrannte Mandeln. The strict translation is burnt almonds but this does not do this traditional festive treat justice.

I first came across them three years ago when visiting my friend Claudia. Touring a selection of Christmas markets in the Braunschweig area I declined her offer of a bag of hot candied almonds on the grounds I dont like nuts.

Then on the last day her husband Bernhard made his own batch of the sugared treats and I felt it would be impolite to refuse one. Argh - turns out they were gorgeous!

I had a bag I had bought for my husband and I *may* have eaten a few which had foolishly started to escape from the bag. I called it tidying up. Dont judge me.

Anyway, here I am back in Germany and Bernhard kindly offered to show me his nuts. Now, now. I mean he offered to show me how to make his almond recipe and because I like to share the joy I am publishing his not so secret recipe here

ingredients for gebrannte mandeln
So. You need equal amounts of almonds with the brown skin still on. I am going to work on a recipe using 200g of almonds, 1 cup of sugar, 1x8g sachet of vanilla sugar, 1 tsp powdered cinnamon and 1 cup just boiled water.

You also need a large uncoated frying pan. We used a stainless steel pan. It needs to be not too deep, not too shallow. I know that is not terribly helpful but check out my pictures to see what I mean. Also, have a large roasting tin or baking tray ready to tip almond mix into.

So, put almonds, sugar, vanilla sugar, cinammon and water in your pan on a high heat until it bubbles quite fiercely. Reduce heat to a medium heat then stir continuously, agitating well as the liquid reduces.
ingredients for gebrannte mandeln

making sweet almonds in pan

Now. Are you ready for the magic bit? Keep agitating/stirring furiously until the liquid is all gone and the mixture turns powdery again.
liquid turns to sugar on almonds

 And then KEEP stirring until liquid reappears.By this I mean the almonds look slightly wet again then turn heat off, stir a few seconds longer then tip the lot into your waiting tray/pan. If you overheat at this point it will give you a huge sticky mess which is not salvageable.
final stage of gebrannte mandolin

Warning-mix and pan will be hotter than a hot thing. I mean, seriously blisteringly hot. Do NOT be tempted to pop an almond into your mouth at this point. Yes they smell divine but they are better after they have cooled and gone crunchy anyway.
cooling and separating almonds

Using a spoon or spatula bash at the almond mix to separate the individual pieces. After a few minutes you can use your fingers to do this but be careful. They stay hotter than rocks freshly spewed from a volcano for quite a while. You cannot say I didnt warn you!

When cooled tip into a serving bowl and pose artfully next to something Christmassy.
German Advent wreath and Gebrannte Mandeln

Then graze on them until you feel too guilty to eat any more. I mean, you could give them as a gift but to be honest they are so nice I am not sure you would want to unless you are a particularly nice person.

I asked Bernhard if you can keep them. He looked a bit bemused as to why I might want to, maybe because I spent most of the afternoon scoffing his supply. However he said as long as they are completely cool and kept dry they should be ok for a day or two. If serving at a party try and avoid damp or humid conditions as this may also turn them soggy.

I reckon you could make them in the daytime then take them along as a hostess gift or contribution to a party and earn yourself lots of smug guest points. Just make sure you remind them they are best eaten the same day so you get to eat the product of your efforts.

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