Friday, 26 March 2010
En attendant les cloches. Mini Easter surprises
Easter is at our doorstep.
I really love this time of the year not only because I can hear the birds while cycling back home after a day of work. No, this is not the only reason why I love Easter. I also like it because it means my birthday is coming- and I absolutely love birthdays (mine or not). And it is also a sign of the trees about to blossom, the smell of mimosa and lily of the valley and the arrival of that tickling, warm sun. A fresh, warm start.
To celebrate this time of the year and the people I love most or really like, I am about to make them some little treats. I have found them while browsing some of my favourite blogs and fell for them straight away. I hope you will feel the same.
En attendant les cloches.
To make these mini Easter surprises you'll need: (I am going large as I want to make 10 little bags to give to friends. You can easily half the measures).
300g of almonds, skin on
300g of sugar
300g of plain dark chocolate (please use a fairtrade chocolate: it tastes better when it is ethically sourced)
150g of white chocolate (add a little milk if the chocolate doesn't melt properly)
Some icing sugar (optional) and cocoa powder to sprinkle
1 tsp of cinnamon
2/3 tsp of cardamom
2/3 tsp of nutmeg
1/2 tsp of aniseed (green aniseed if prefered but here I am using normal star aniseed)
In 2 separate bowls, melt the dark and white chocolate. Leave to cool.
Place 200g of sugar with 4 tsp of water in a saucepan and heat until the syrup starts bubbling (do not let it caramelised).
Remove from the heat and add the almonds. Stir well with a wooden spoon until the almonds are fully coated with the sugary syrup. The syrup will solidify to a white consistency.
Remove the almonds from the pan leaving the syrup inside. Add the remaining sugar with another 4tsp of water to the syrup and leave to cook until the caramel takes a light shade of brown.
Once the caramel has reached the right colour, remove from the hob and put the almonds back in the saucepan. Stir with the wooden spoon until perfectly coated. Remove them from the pan and leave to cool on a flat baking tray (I have used baking paper here instead of a baking tray).
Place the coated almonds in a large bowl.
Check the melted chocolates. They should be about 25ºC. The chocolates should be cool enough to prevent the almonds from sticking to each other.
Start with the dark chocolate.
Spoon one tablespoon of chocolate at a time over the almonds. Stir until all the chocolate has completely covered the almonds. Repeat the process until you've used all the dark chocolate.
Add half of the spice mix and stir well.
Repeat with the white chocolate.
Once the chocolate has been fully absorbed, carry on stirring until the almonds take a nice round shape.
In a separate bowl, mix the cocoa powder with the remaining half of the spices. Add the almonds to the mix and stir well until totally covered in cocoa powder. If you decide to use icing sugar, take a few almonds out of the cocoa/spices mix and place them in the sugar. Stir well as before. You will now end up with a mix of black and white almonds.
Leave to set for at least an hour.
Remove the excess cocoa powder and icing sugar and place the almonds in your little bags.
Offer them to those you cherish or just really like. They will put a smile on their face.