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Brown Sugar & Black Pepper Almonds

I love having simple recipes — simple formulas, really — you can pull out of your back pocket and stir up in no time. Years ago, candied almonds used to be my standby — sugar and butter in a heavy skillet with whole almonds, it took five minutes and was perfect when I needed to put a little bowl of something out, or when I needed to bring something tasty somewhere. I love snacking on whole almonds, and this quick upgrade turns them into something special — a bit of a treat for nibbling at my desk.

These spicy-sweet brown sugar and black pepper almonds are perfect for gift giving — if you need to let someone know you’re thinking about or appreciate them, package these up in a little Chinese takeout box lined with tissue, or a decorative bag. Let them cool completely first.

The quantity of salt and pepper seems high — but it works! The original calls for blanched almonds, but I always buy them with their skins on — more fiber that way!

Brown Sugar & Black Pepper Almonds

adapted from Bon Appétit, December 1997

2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
3/4 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1 Tbsp. water
3 cups whole almonds

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line large baking sheet with foil and butter it, or spray it with nonstick spray. Mix pepper and salt in small bowl. Melt butter in large skillet over medium-low heat, add the sugar and water and stir until the sugar dissolves. Add almonds; toss to coat. Cook over medium heat until syrup thickens and almonds are well coated, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle half of the pepper mixture overtop.

Transfer almonds to the baking sheet. Using spatula and working quickly, separate almonds. Sprinkle remaining pepper mixture over. Bake for about 10 minutes, until a deep golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack and let them cool on the sheet, then break apart.

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