Fritz and I both have a sweet tooth. Luckily for me, I can usually distract mine from chocolate and candies with fruit–Fritz, not so much. He says he doesn’t even have a real sweet tooth, more of a “snack tooth”. The kid loves to snack. Like, he really loves a snack.
Instead of fighting this primal need of his, I try to keep the cupboards stocked with healthy snacks–granola bars, nuts, pumpkin seeds, yogurts, peanut butter, etc. A lot of snack choices = a happy Fritz. (This is supplemented by my parents generously supplying him with extra-large bags of peanut M&Ms, of course).
I decided to make a sweet snack that would still be healthier than say, chips, but still have that grab-a-handful-on-the-way-by appeal that a true snack has. I was looking through Vegetarian Times and stumbled upon the perfect easy snack recipe–Cocoa-dusted Glazed Almonds. After I made them, I renamed them because they reminded me exactly of Mexican hot chocolate–sweet, spicy, and perfectly satisfying.
Here’s the recipe for you to try:
Mexican Hot Chocolate Almonds
- 3 T maple syrup
- 2 T brown sugar, firmly packed
- 1 t salt
- 1/2 t cayenne pepper
- 1/4 t cinnamon
- 2 C raw almonds
- 1 1/2 T unsweetened cocoa powder
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
Combine everything except the almonds and the cocoa powder into a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Add the almonds, and cook for three minutes, constantly stirring.
Pour onto the prepared baking sheet, and spread them out into a single layer–this takes a little effort, ’cause they are very sticky at this point!
Bake in the oven (middle rack) until the syrup around the almonds turns a darker brown, about 20 minutes. Keep your eye one these, because nuts burn fast in the oven and there’s no way to turn back once you’ve gone too far! When finished, remove from the oven and allow to cool completely. Meanwhile, place the cocoa powder into a resealable bag. When the almonds are cool, break them apart and toss ‘em in the bag until they are dusted with cocoa.
These almonds were a tremendous success. They have a surprisingly complex flavor but it melds perfectly with the cocoa powder. When I was just making the syrup, I was worried it was too salty and too spicy, but once you taste the toasted almonds with it–perfection. These went pretty quickly.
And they go perfectly with a glass of milk.