- Gluten Free
- Lactose Free
- Difficulty: Easy
- Prep time: 5 min
- Cook time: 15 min
- Serving: 6 people
- Cost: Low
- Note + cooling time
Almond crunch is a traditional Christmas dessert made with almonds and sugar. Almonds are featured in various preparations in this period and almond crunch is among the sweets that best enhance its unique taste and crunchiness. Its origins are debated: it is made in many regions of Italy, especially in central-southern Italy, and all of them with a tradition about this dessert. There are written testimonies of almond crunch in a Spanish text from 1475, which suggests Iberian origins, but others suggest that it was created in southern Italy around '200, as a derivation of a typical Arabic cake made with almonds, honey, sugar, and spices. In various Italian provinces there are events in honour of this delicacy: artisans compete to create beautiful sculptures, such as in Sestola (MO), or in San Marco dei Cavoti (BN). Here we offer you the recipe for the traditional version.
How to prepare Almond crunch
To make almond crunch, pour the peeled almonds onto a baking tray 1 and toast them in a static oven preheated to 375° F (190° C). It'll only take a few minutes, so make sure they don't burn. In the meantime, make the caramel: take an unglazed steel pan and pour in honey 2, sugar and a few drops of lemon juice 3.
Mix to even out the ingredients 4 and melt over medium heat, using a kitchen thermometer to monitor the temperature of the caramel 5. Once the temperature reaches 285° F (140° C), pour the toasted almonds into the pan with honey while still hot 6.
Mix 7 and wait until the temperature reaches 340° F (170° C). Remove from heat and pour the mixture into a baking tray lined with baking paper, and spread it with a wooden spoon 8. Let cool at room temperature 9.
When the almond crunch has cooled down, place it on a chopping board 10 11 and cut into bars 12 before serving.
Preserving the almond crunch requires a few extra steps.
First: wrap it in oiled paper, similar to baking paper, and place it in a tin box or jar with lid when it is cold.
Second: Place the container in a cool, dry place! The caramelized sugar tends to melt in the heat. It can be stored for quite a long time, even a few months, or at least until the temperature gets too hot and the sugar tends to melt.
Lemon is necessary to avoid the crystallization of sugar. Honey, instead of glucose, is used to improve its resistance to moisture. To clean the pan from the caramel, just add a little water and bring everything to boil, so the mixture will be more fluid!