When I made brittle and toffee last year for the holiday season, I thought it was the thing to make for an easy introduction to the world of confectionery. Apparently, I was wrong. There are even easier candies to make that doesn’t require any thermometer! Behold, I present you Almond Ding. Yup, that giggling you heard was me. Food with funny-sounding names fascinate me to no end.
Funny name aside, Almond Ding is basically toffee-encrusted almond clusters. You cook blanched almonds (1 cup), butter (30g), and sugar (100g) over stove top at medium heat, stirring constantly. The stirring promotes crystallization and the heat eventually transform butter and sugar to caramel. When the whole thing turns deep amber colour, you add a generous sprinkle of fleur de sel and let it cool on silicone pan liner in a single layer. Once cooled, you break up the candy into bite-size clusters and that’s it! Crunchy buttery nuts that are so addictive I have to pack it away so I wouldn’t eat them all in one go.
I honestly thought I packed away my confectionery toolkit for the year after that extravaganza in Christmas. However, when I saw this easy recipe in David Lebovitz’s Ready For Dessert, I couldn’t help myself even though it was 3am in the morning. It took less than 30 minutes from start to finish including clean up and that includes the time I needed to blanch my almonds too. Too dangerously easy if you ask me.
I reuse a candy tin to store these almond dings. First, I lined the inside of the tin with wax paper to prevent grease marks. Of course, you can just as easily fill a cellophane bag with candies before putting it inside the tin. The outside of the tin has the original stickers on the lid and around the side. Obviously I want to cover the lid so I took a piece of patterned craft paper and cut it to size. The sticker on the side of the tin actually has the most appropriate label for my contents. So much so that I didn’t want to cover it up. Instead, I cut out ribbons of the same craft paper to tape cover most of the original sticker to frame the words. The gold and yellow turn out to be great match. As a final touch, I tied the tin with some gossamer turquoise ribbon for a nice pop of colour. I already have a recipient in mind for this impromptu little gift and her name doesn’t start with Candy.
The same technique for making Almond Dings can be applied to making candied peanuts. While the almond clusters are better suited to eating out of hand, the candied peanuts can be used as a garnish for cakes, mousse, ice-cream sundae, or even cold noodle salads. I am intrigued by the possibilities and cannot wait to stock my pantry with a nice big container. In the mean time, my thermometer can rest easy for more important tasks such as marmalades and bread baking.