Three-Pepper Almonds

No matter how hard and how often I try, I can’t figure out how to get an even, smooth coating on these almonds. The end result is always an almond that is sweet, spicy, and a little gnarly. Serve these with a fresh or dried fruit platter featuring apples, apricots, and plums.

Since Roman times, almonds have been thought to signify five wishes for the bride and groom: health, wealth, happiness, fertility, and longevity. Almonds were once thrown on newlyweds; today, instead many newlyweds give Jordan almonds to their guests. Pastel-colored, hard candy-coated Jordan almonds are supposed to represent the bitter and the sweet that come with marriage. If you wish for any of the above, try this sweet and spicy recipe instead.

Makes 2 cups.

2 teaspoons vegetable oil
2 cups raw whole almonds, blanched or skin on
⅓ cup firmly packed brown sugar
¾ teaspoon red pepper or chipotle flakes
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon white pepper
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt

1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Place a large heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat and, when it is hot, add the oil. Add the almonds and cook, stirring, just until they begin to color, about 5 minutes. Add the brown sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, waiting until each tablespoon melts before adding the next, and cook until all but 1 tablespoon has been added. Sprinkle in the pepper flakes, the black pepper, and the white pepper, stirring all the while.

3. Transfer the almonds to the prepared sheet and sprinkle evenly with the remaining 1 tablespoon of brown sugar and the salt. Separate the nuts and set aside to cool before serving.

Not just for snacking: Try these over vanilla ice cream doused with caramel sauce.

From Party Nuts! 50 Recipes for Spicy, Sweet, Savory, and Simply Sensational Nuts That Will Be the Hit of Any Gathering (The Harvard Common Press, 2002)