Hot-Sweet Black and White Sesame Almonds

My friend Lizzy Shaw, who lives in California and comes to visit once a year, made these last New Year’s Eve. When she came back this year, she perfected them. Neither she nor my husband, Mark, could stop eating them.

Although I have used blanched almonds in many of these recipes, I prefer to eat them with the skins on. Some people (not me) consider the skins bitter. If you are one of these people and you like your almonds blanched, simply drop skin-on almonds into a bowl of boiling hot water and let them sit for 2 to 3 minutes. Drain and rub off the skins with your hands. Or you can simply buy them already blanched at the supermarket.

Makes 1½ cups.

¼ teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon black sesame seeds
1 tablespoon white sesame seeds
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1½ cups raw whole almonds, blanched, skin on, or a combination

1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. In a small bowl, combine the spices, pepper flakes, sesame seeds, and 2 tablespoons of the sugar and mix well.

3. Place the remaining ¼ cup of sugar in a large, heavy-bottomed skillet and cook over medium heat until melted, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the almonds and cook, stirring, until they are coated with the sugar syrup.

4. Add a small amount of the sesame seed mixture to the almonds, stirring all the while. Add the remaining mixture, a little bit at a time, and toss until all the mixture has been used.

5. Transfer the nuts to the prepared sheet and arrange in a single layer; separate the almonds with a fork or your hands and set aside to cool before serving.

If you’re sipping: Eat these with the wine of your choice.

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)