This recipe was inspired back in November by a friend of a friend, who showed up at a pub quiz I attended with a gallon bag full of holiday-spiced almonds, which she'd made herself. I had a cold, so I didn't want to be reaching into the bag all night, but I wanted to try them to be polite, so I had my friend Sophie tip a few nuts into my palm. And then a few more, and a few more... all I can say is, thank god for that cold and my reluctance to pester Sophie, or I would have eaten the whole damn bag!
I asked the girl how she'd made them, and she basically listed a bunch of spices, some salt, and an egg white as the ingredients. I wasn't paying enough attention to write the spices down, but they were your baking basics: cinnamon, nutmeg, maybe some cloves (which I tend to skip). The minute I got back to London, I bought a jumbo bag of raw almonds – I was all set to make my own amazingly addictive roasted nuts. And then I put the nuts away in the cupboard, in the midst of a tidying frenzy, and I promptly forgot about them.
Until a couple of weekends ago, when I really wanted to make something to share with my friend Magda. She was on the usual New Year's health kick, so I knew cookies or cake wouldn't go over well (or rather, they'd go over too well, and she'd beat herself up for eating them, and then I'd feel like a terrible and unsupportive friend), and she'd been having a hard time dealing with her new healthy attitude in light of her office job, which usually required much snackage to get her through the day (we have the same job, so I feel her pain – so do my rounding hips).
I decided these nuts would be the perfect solution: sweet, so they'd satisfy a craving, but relatively healthy as well (lots of protein, not much sugar, lowish in fat). And the method was super easy – I had just enough time to throw them together and scrape them into a pretty holiday bag before I ran off to meet her for lunch.
The result? She loved them! And it was so nice to see her enjoy something I'd baked without feeling guilty about it, for once (although, knowing her, she probably still felt a bit guilty, but that's just her being a little bit nuts).
Sweetly Spiced Almonds (or any other nut you prefer)
adapted from Allrecipes
Preheat oven to 350F/175C. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and butter/grease the foil.
In a large bowl beat together:
1 egg white
1 Tbsp water
Stir in, mixing until well combined:
500g raw almonds (or other nut type, or a mix)
1/2 c brown sugar
In a small bowl, mix together:
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
Sprinkle spices over the moistened nuts and stir until coated. Spread nuts on prepared pan and bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes, stirring every 7-10 minutes. Keep an eye on them – the nuts can burn very quickly if they're not watched. Let cool/dry on the pan before breaking up the clusters and serving.