Gebrannte Mandeln – German Candied Almonds
If there’s one thing I miss about Germany at this time of year, it’s the German Christmas markets. And no visit to a German Christmas market would be complete without a paper bag full of ‘Gebrannte Mandeln’ which literally translates as ‘burned almonds’ but in English I think you would call them candied almonds. These are an absolute classic and no Christmas market visit would be complete without them. Since we’re not going to Germany over Christmas this year, I did the next best thing and made a batch of them myself – and they taste just like the almonds I remember from the Christmas markets I used to visit every year growing up and when we lived in Berlin.
Gebrannte Mandeln are relatively easy to make, though it’s all in getting the temperature right. And it requires a bit of patience – and a lot of stirring! Once you start, you can’t stop as the recipe can burn very quickly, so make sure you have everything you need laid out and ready.
- 200g whole almonds
- 150g granulated sugar
- 1 sachet of Vanillin sugar or 1 tsp vanilla essence
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 100ml water
I like to roast my almonds first, for one because I like the taste and for another because my husband can’t eat raw almonds but he’s okay with roasted. I roast them for about 15 minutes at 180 C fan oven, shaking the tray after every 5 minutes and checking they are not starting to burn. You can skip this step though if you prefer.
Before you start the next steps, prepare a baking sheet lined with grease proof paper and set aside.
Now add the sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and water in to a large frying pan or saucepan and stir to combine. A heavy cast iron pan is best if you have one as it holds the heat well, but don’t worry if you don’t have one, another pan will also do it may just take longer.
Turn your heat to high and bring the sugar mixture to a boil until all the sugar has completely dissolved, then lower the heat to medium and add the almonds.
Turn down the heat slightly and keep the mixture simmering until the water evaporates, stirring the almonds continuously so they don’t stick to the pan and burn. This can easily take up to ten minutes.
First the mixture will start to thicken until eventually all the water has evaporated. The sugar have started to stick to the almonds but will look really dry, almost like sand. It will also become really hard to stir and start sticking to stick to the pan a little. But this stage is completely normal. Whatever you do, don’t stop stirring!
Turn down the heat to medium to prevent burning, and just keep stirring. The sugar will now start to melt again within a couple of minutes, and as you keep stirring (have I mentioned not to stop stirring yet?) the almonds will get coated in the melting sugar. Once all the sugar has melted, and the almonds have a bumpy shiny coating, turn off the heat. You can stop stirring now!
Immediately transfer your almonds from the hot pan to the prepped lined baking sheet, then use two forks to separate them so they don’t all weld together whilst cooling down. DO NOT TOUCH THE ALMONDS UNTIL THE SUGAR HAS COOLED AND HARDENED! Melted sugar is incredibly and painfully hot.
Gebrannte Mandeln taste best when they are freshly made, but you can store them in an airtight container for a couple of days, they will just start to get less crispy.
Portioned out and packaged up in pretty paper bags, these also make great little treats for a Christmas party or to give as gifts to neighbours and friends (just check to make sure no one has a nut allergy!) This recipe will you give you three portions of around 100g. If you want to make more, I would recommend doing them one batch at a time, rather than doubling up because the more you make in one go, the harder it gets to stir. I tried it once, and really regretted it half way through.