Author Notes: At every family Christmas gathering I can remember as a child, croccante di mandorle was always on the dessert table. Recently, I asked my mom how to make it, and she said “it’s just sugar, water and almonds!” Sounded simple enough, so I did a little investigating and found a great video recipe on GialloZafferano’s youtube channel, which I adapted. I’ve adjusted the amounts of sugar and nuts, and left the skins on the almonds because I think it’s much more colorful and pleasing to the eye. The anise seeds gives the candy a subtle licorice flavor, which I love with almonds and citrus. Serve with an espresso. Sambuca optional. —mrslarkin
Makes: about 1 1/4 pounds
cups granulated sugar
teaspoon lemon juice
cups whole almonds
teaspoons anise seeds
one half of a fresh large lemon (optional, but fun)
- Line a quarter sheet pan, or small rectangular pan with parchment paper. Set aside.
- Place almonds on another parchment-lined sheet pan and lightly toast in a 350 degree oven until fragrant. Remove from oven and let cool. Chop about half of the almonds. I use my hinged lemon juicer to crush some of my nuts and it works quite well. Set almonds aside.
- Over medium/low heat, melt sugar, lemon juice and water in a large saute pan, using a wooden spoon to stir occasionally. When sugar has dissolved and is golden-blonde in color, turn off the heat and stir in the almonds and anise seeds. Mix well.
- Carefully pour the lava-hot nut mixture into the prepared pan. Using an oiled rubber spatula or lemon half, carefully spread the nut mixture out. The lemon half will impart a lovely lemony flavor to the brittle.
- Let cool for a few minutes, then cut into strips or squares. Optionally, let cool completely and break apart into rough shapes.