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I tried to make caramelized almonds yesterday with the following recipe: heat 300 grams of sugar with 80 grams water. When mixture reaches 125 degrees Celsius, add the almonds. The almonds would develop a sandy white coating that would turn to caramel. When mixture reaches 150 degrees Celsius, remove from heat. I used halved almonds which I toasted before, per the recipe, and did the cooking in a small saucepan.

What happened is the almonds did develop the sandy white coating but then burned before the it turned to caramel (they burned right after I added them and started stirring). Then I tried again, used a bit more water and a more accurate thermometer, thinking the temperature was the issue. The other thing I changed was using about two-thirds whole toasted hazelnuts since I ran out of almonds. It did turn out better, but I noticed the halved almonds still turned black, while the hazelnuts were OK. Also, I've tried the recipe before, using whole cashews, and it was fine.

So, my question is why did the almonds burn and how can I prevent this?

  • The specifics of how you toasted them might be relevant. You could possibly also add the almonds at a later point. – Matthew Read Mar 26 '16 at 20:29
  • I toasted them in oven beforehand until they got a light color. Then I let them cool for a few hours – Michal Tenenberg Mar 27 '16 at 7:03
  • Is the recipe designed for almonds? They're lower in oil and water content compared to cashews foodscience.wikispaces.com/Nuts And, Hazelnuts have more water content than cashews but lower fat content, though higher fat content than almonds. – Catija Mar 28 '16 at 22:48
  • The recipe is for almonds, and the photo that accompanies it shows almond halves – Michal Tenenberg Mar 29 '16 at 12:51
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Right off the top of my head, I would have to say that it had to do with the toasting OR the size of the nut. If you toasted the halves longer than you normally would, if they were a darker brown color, then it would take less time for them to burn. Then you mentioned Whole cashews vs. halved almonds. The thickness of the individual pieces is also going to affect how fast they cook through (and then burn). Then there's the fact that your hazelnuts (also thicker than halved almonds) turned out ok.

If you REALLY REALLY want to make this recipe with almonds, I'd almost suggest not toasting them at all...or very, very lightly.

  • Thanks. I'll try not toasting them at all next time and see what happens. I don't mind using hazelnuts or other nuts, I was just perplexed that following the recipe to the t produced a mess... It's a recipe from a book about sugar, so I was sure something about my method was wrong. – Michal Tenenberg Mar 29 '16 at 12:55
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Did you consistently and constantly stir the nuts? Toasting thin nuts like sliced almonds in a pan requires constant stirring to promote even browning on their surface; otherwise, the edges will reach temperature too quickly and burn.

Also, if your pan is thin or aluminum, the rapid heat changes can promote burning, especially without stirring.

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