Growing up, one of our family’s Passover customs was to use liquid sugar, or simple syrup, in place of regular sugar in our recipes. It was a stringency brought back from Europe by our great-grandparents, and we continue to keep it, year after year.
The night before Passover, my mother boils up a vat of water and sugar until thickened and pours it through layers of cheesecloth into mason jars. Not being able to use regular sugar on Pesach has it’s challenges. Like when you want to bake cookies, or cake. But it sure has it’s advantages too. Like when we want to make easy sorbet, quick lemonade, or a mix up a pitcher of sangria. These classic sugared almonds are another advantage.
Sugared nuts are different from candied or glazed nuts, which are oftened tossed with egg white and butter for a sticky coating. Simple 2-ingrediented sugar coated nuts are cooked down until the sugar crystallizes and forms a crunchy crust on the nuts. You may have seen (or smelled) them on the streets of New York, in those Nuts 4 Nuts street carts.
The great part about making sugared nuts is that they’re a blank canvas for all flavors and combos. You can toss in some cinnamon (my favorite!) add a hint of sea salt (‘cuz I love sweet and salty!) or throw in a pinch of cayenne for a little kick.
My favorite part about this kosher for Passover recipe is the great feeling I get from making them entirely from scratch. Cracking the nuts brings me back to the days of old, imagining what Pesach was like for my ancestors, as they prepared simple foods made from scratch, a custom we we have carried on for generations.
2 cups raw almonds (or nuts of choice)
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
optional add-ins: vanilla, cinnamon, cocoa, sea salt or cayenne
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
Combine the sugar and water in a pan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat until sugar is fully dissolved. Add the almonds and continue to cook, stirring constantly as the sugar thickens. After about 4 minutes, the water will evaporate and the sugar with crystalize on the nuts. Continue to stir until the sugar begins to turn light brown and caramelize. Watch the nuts carefully because they can quickly start to burn at this point. Pour onto the parchment-lined baking sheet and stir in any spices of your choice. Bake for approximately 10 minutes until toasted and fragrant. (You can skip this step but I find that when starting with raw nuts, they need that extra bit of roasting for added crunch). Set the nuts aside, they will get crunchier as they cool.
VARIATION: Try adding almond, coconut or vanilla extract to the sugar syrup or toss with the spices of your choice.
NOTE: If you want even more of a sugar coating, double the sugar syrup recipe and continue as above (the evaporation process will take longer).
Other Passover recipes: