Mandeln….Roast Sugared Almonds

It’s Christmas time! 🙂 I absolutely LOVE this time of year! The run-up is almost more enjoyable than the actually day….seeing the Coco Cola advert on TV, watching the Late Late Toy Show (it’s an Irish thing 😉 ), wandering through the Saturday market stocking up on goodies, carol singers, the Christmas lights in the city, mulled wine, mince pies and decorating the house! 🙂

We’re going to put our tree up tomorrow evening, so I’ve been busy making lots of treats for a Christmassy evening decorating the house. I plan on making a few batches of mince pies this evening, recipe to follow. There’s nothing like the smell of freshly baked mince pies to get you into the Christmas spirit.

I spent a year in Germany a couple years back. Absolutely loved my time there. My favourite time of the year was the Weihnachsmarkt in the run up to Christmas. Mulled wine and crepes. And Mandeln. Mandeln are roasted sugared almonds and are so delicious and  addictive – as well as easy to make.

Ingredients:

1 cup whole almonds

2 tbsp butter

1/2 cup caster sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Pinch of salt

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Butter a roasting pan and set aside.

Place the almonds, sugar and butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir constantly until the sugar has dissolved and the almonds are toasted. This process should take about 10 minutes.

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Once the mixture starts to become sticky and caramelized  stir in the vanilla extract. Immediately pour the mixture onto your buttered baking sheet. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt for extra flavour. Leave to cool for approximately half an hour.

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This is such an easy recipe and is a nice snack alternative to crisps or sweets. It’s homemade and the kitchen smells so deliciously sweet and Christmassy afterwards! 🙂
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I’ll be baking my mince pies this evening so I’ll share a couple more recipes over the next couple days…..as we countdown to Christmas! 🙂

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Rachel Allen’s Basic Cookie Recipe

One recipe, countless variations! 🙂 Rachel Allen’s basic cookie recipe is a great basis for many flavour combinations. Some of the combinations you could try are:

  • Dried fruits: Add 1/4 cup to flour
  • Nuts: Add 1/4 cup to flour
  • Spices: Add 1 tsp to flour
  • Vanilla essence: Add 1 tsp to flour
  • Cinnamon: Add 1 tsp to flour
  • Chocolate chips: Add 1/4 cup to flour
  • Creamy peanut butter: Substitute for butter
  • Zest of 1 lemon: Add to flour
  • 2 tbsp poppy seeds: Add to flour
  • Zest 1 orange: Add to flour
  • 1 tsp ground spice: Add to the flour
  • White chocolate and orange: Dip the tops of the orange cookies in 2 ozs melted white chocolate, and then let set on parchment paper
  • Double chocolate chip: Use 9 ozs all-purpose flour, and add 2 ozs sifted cocoa powder to the flour. Bring the dough together and mix in 4 1/2 ozs dark or white chocolate chips
  • White chocolate and dried cranberry: Add 1/4 cup chopped dried cranberries to the flour. When the cookies are baked and cooled, dip the tops in 2 ozs melted white chocolate and let set on parchment paper
  • Dried cranberry and pistachio: Add 1/4 cup chopped dried cranberries and 1/4 cup pistachio’s to the flour
  • Smarties: Add 1/4 cup smarties to the flour
  • Butterscotch-Pecan: Substitute 2 cups packed brown sugar for sugar. Add 1 cup finely chopped pecans to ingredients.
  • White Chocolate and Macadamia nuts

Ingredients (Makes 25 cookies)
225 g butter, at room temperature
110 g caster sugar
275 g plain flour
Optional Extras

Method
1. Preheat the oven to 170C/gas 3.

2. Cream the butter in a large bowl or in a food mixer until soft and creamy. Add the sugar and beat until the mixture is pale and fluffy.

3. Sift in the flour and bring the mixture together to form a firm dough.

4. Using your hands, roll the dough into walnut-sized balls and place them slightly apart on a baking tray (no need to grease or line). Flatten them slightly with the back of a damp fork and bake in the oven for 13–15 minutes, or until they are light golden brown and slightly firm on top.

5. Carefully transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool.

You can store the dough mixture in your fridge for up to 2 weeks. Alternatively, to ensure you’ll have freshly baked cookies for visitors when they arrive, store in the freezer. Cut into 2.5 inch slices and bake in pre-heated oven as you need them.

100 Calorie Snacks

Before I continue with this post, I must point out that I am in no way a nutritionist. I have never studied nutrition and know very little about it. This post is based on personal experience and some research into snacks to fill the void when trying to stick to a good healthy diet. 100 calories isn’t a lot, certainly when you consider 100 calories equals:

  • 2 jaffa cakes
  • 25 m&m’s
  • 15 jelly babies
  • 1/3 of a snickers bar
  • 1 1/3 bourbon creams
  • 1 1/3 digestives
  • 1 1/4 jammy dodgers

Not very satisfying is it.

So I’ve come up with a list here of much more satisfying and filling snacks worth 100 calories or less.

  • Honey Yoghurt (1/2 cup low fat greek/natural yoghurt, pinch of cinnamon and 1 tsp honey)
  • Summer Berry Salad (1 cup mixed berries, 1 tbsp orange juice)

  • 1 Mango
  • Grilled Pineapple (about 1 cup pineapple, grilled for 2 minutes until golden brown)
  • Tropical Juice Smoothie (1/4 cup each of pineapple juice, orange juice and apple juice blended with ice)

  • Apple Chips (2 large apples thinly sliced, 2 tbsp sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon. Bake at 95C for 2 hours)
  • Popcorn (2 cups air popped, 1 tsp salt)
  • 1 Cup Mango Chunks
  • Strawberry Salad (1 cup raw spinach, 1/2 cup sliced strawberries, 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar)
  • Baby Carrots (10 baby carrots, 2 tbsp hummus)
  • 30 Grapes
  • One Small Melon (very low calories and very very healthy!)
  • 1/2 Medium Cantaloupe Melon
  • 2 Cups Raspberries
  • 20 Olives

  • 1 Cup Tomatoe Soup (watch calorie count on tins – or homemade is best!)
  • Yoghurt with Sunflower Seeds (1/2 cup natural yoghurt, 1 tsp honey, 1 tsp sunflower seeds)
  • Banana Chips (1 banana sliced, dip in lemon juice and bake at 95C for 2 hours)
  • Wasabi Peas (1/3 cup) – LOVE these!!
  • Chickpea salad (1/4 cup chickpeas, 1/4 cup diced tomatoes, large squeeze of lemon juice)
  • Pistachios (about 25 nuts, or a couple handfuls)

  • Vanilla and Banana Smoothie (1/2 cup sliced banana, 1/4 cup nonfat vanilla yoghurt, handful of ice)
  • Strawberry and Banana Soy Smoothie (Makes 2: 2 cups strawberries, 1 banana, 2 cup low fat soy milks, 1 tbsp honey, 1 tbsp vanilla extract)
  • Berry Yoghurt Smoothie (1/2 cup frozen strawberries, 1/2 cup frozen blueberries, 1 cup natural yoghurt, 2 tsp honey and 1/4 cup soy milk)
  • Chocolate Pudding (Serves 4: 2 cups soy milk, 1 tbsp unsalted butter, 5 tbsp sugar, 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder, 2 tbps cornstarch, 2 tbsp water, 1 tsp vanilla extract. Combine milk and butter in saucepan over medium/low heat. Stir gently to melt butter. In bowl, combine sugar, cocoa and cornstarch. Add water and mix to make a paste. Whisk paste into milk mixture. Raise heat to medium and cook until thick and bubbly, approx. 5 mins. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla extract. Transfer to 4 ramekins. Refridgerate for at least 4 hours) Simple and YUMMY!!!

So there we go…some tasty and healthy alternatives to fatty, high calorie snacks. Happy snacking! 🙂