December 5, 2013

Gebrannte Mandeln aka German Burnt Sugar Almonds


Every year just before Christmas my family and I visit Hershey Pennsylvania aka "The Sweetest Place on Earth".  We ADORE that town during the holidays.  We stay at The Hershey Lodge, go to Hershey Park (which this time of year is called Christmas Candylane) at night where it is decorated with a crazy amount of holiday lights aaaaand reindeer people...reindeer...squeal!!  "Everyone" is there with the exception of Rudolph!  

We guzzle down cups of their ridiculous hot chocolate, usually getting "The Works" which has so much delicious goodness in it you drink the whole darn thing!  However one thing that I am always excited to enjoy at the park are the Burnt Sugar Almonds they sell - oh good Heavens they are delicious!! While we stroll around bundled up, hopping on a few rides here and there, listening to Christmas music and watching the dancing lights over the water I nibble on these and my husband and kids enjoy for hot seasoned potato chips! The four of us walk around  munching and crunching (and occasionally dancing) enjoying ourselves immensely!

We hit the The Hershey Story Museum, Houlihans for a lunch one of the 2 days and we always end with a visit to the XX where we pick up candy - some of it not available in stores like HUGE Reeses Cups, a huge variety of Hershey Kiss flavors and much more.  This year the kids each picked up sweatshirts...I'm kinda jealous, lol!   Not to be missed there is the trolly ride - it's so fun and you ride past Milton's home and shhh...Santa makes an appearance.  Of course the "ride" through the mock Hershey factory is a highlight (which is free) and my kids ride it at least 4 times every year.  At the end of the ride, someone is waiting at a stand towards the exit and they give you chocolate!!!  Yup!  This year it was mini Rolos, which my kids had never had before and guessed it...we left with a case full of Mini Rolo Packets! ( the end of the ride they take a photo which you can choose to purchase...make it a silly one!) 

Here are a few photos photo of this years Candy House, look at the GIANT Kisses on top, the Twizzler roof and the White Chocolate Kit Kat "siding"!! Every year we can't wait to see it!  This year the inside of the house even had a desk, fireplace and stockings...all made of Hershey's Candy. SO cool!!

Look at the walkway...LOVE!!  One of these years I would love a behind the scenes access to the building of the annual candy house!

Besides all the fun we have had there all these years (our kids are now 9 and 12) I am utterly smitten with Milton and Kitty Hershey.  Both with Milton's failures and ultimate astounding success, Milton & Kitty's love story, the town's story (and how it rallied around Milton after Kitty's death) and most of all what Milton & Kitty did...all the good they did (and still do) when they started The Milton Hershey School.  It's actually mind-blowing when you think about how many lives they (and the school) touched and in so many cases changed the path of their lives for the better.  

Do you know who has controlling interest in Hershey Corporation...and Hershey Park?  The school.

THINK about that for a minute....The school.  I can't even type that without filling up with tears.

When Kitty died way too early - Milton signed everything over to the school, to honor the idea she gave him about helping children, since they themselves couldn't have any.  The man behind the hershey's chocolate bar is my idol...but the woman behind that man is my idol as well.  If you want to learn more about their story here is a place to start.

You know how Bon Appetit Magazine has asked so many people over its lifetime of issues (on the last page interview) "which 3 people would they invite to dinner?"  My answer for 2 of my 3 guests has always been Milton & Kitty Hershey for as long as I can remember :)

For this month's Leftover Club, I was paired with Heather from the website Sugar Dish Me and since we just came back from Hershey, I figured Heather would love some of the Gebrannte Mandeln aka German Burnt Sugar Almonds that I so enjoyed, so I replicated them.

Plus - YOU will be talked about for days...maybe months if you make these as food gifts this holiday season or scatter them about at your holiday it, do it, do it!!

I saw a sneak peek of what is coming my way!  Don't these look fun and delicious!!  You can check her site for the recipe and while you are there check out her recipe for these fun York Peppermint Brownies  and her Chopped BBQ Chicken Salad both of which are going on my "Must Make List".

Gebrannte Mandeln aka German Burnt Sugar Almonds
-recipe adapted from Tasty Kitchen

1/3 cup water, plus 2 TBS
1 cup sugar 
1/4 cup Chicago Sugar (from The Spice House) *See Notes
2 cups whole almonds

Use a heavy saucepan (NOT the nonstick) and a big wooden or metal spoon.
First add the water, 1 cup of sugar. Bring it to a boil over medium heat. Add the almonds to the mix, raise the temperature to high heat and stir CONSTANTLY until the water is boiled away.
The sugar will begin to dry out a little and start to stick to the almonds. Keep stirring them around, so that the almonds don't have a chance to burn on the bottom of the pan.
One the almonds begin looking dry, turn the heat under the pan to medium-low, to keep the sugar from browning too fast. Keep stirring until the almonds start to get a little shiney in spots.

You are getting a serious arm workout making these - but its all good!  It means you can eat extra!!
Now remove your pan from the heat for a minute, dump in the rest of your Chicago Sugar (or mixture referenced in the notes below). Keep stirring.  
At this point, there might be some noise ensuing from your pan. Some crackling and popping, but hopefully not to much, just a little and your almonds should not be breaking. It depends on how fresh your almonds were. Really fresh almonds will make a popping noise and the coat may start to crack. That’s the water in the almonds escaping. If the almonds are older, that will not really happen.
Keep stirring until the almonds are a little shiny, but still a bit lumpy.The best ones are the ones that are shiny in some areas with some delicious lumps of cinnamon sugar on other parts of the almond.  As soon as you see that happening, take them off the heat and transfer the almonds to a sheet of parchment paper. Spread them apart as much as you can, but don't worry about some of them sticking together initially. BE CAREFUL, however. These are extremely hot, so use a spoon.   As I stir towards the end, I keep popping one or two out of my pan, let it cool real quick and sample until its the way I want it.  The coating on the almonds will harden up more after they are completely cooled.
While they are cooling down, keep on breaking them apart with your spoon until they are mostly separated. And try to control yourself from eating to many - ummm yeah, good luck with THAT!
These should keep for a couple weeks in a sealed bag or container BUT I don't know who has ever been able to prove that theory!! These are too delicious and addictive!!

Colleen's Notes:  I happen to not be able to live without my favorite Premium Old Town Chicago Premium Sugar from The Spice House - If you don't have that just mix up 3 TBS sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp cardamom if you have it and 1 TSP vanilla sugar.  If you don't have vanilla sugar, replace it with plain sugar and when you add the remaining 2 TBS water to the almonds add in 1 TBS vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste there.

Do not make these more than 1 batch at a time - you are much more likely to burn them if you do.  Also do not make them in a high, small width pot - it will be too much work stirring them me!  Make them in a wide saucepan or everyday pan.  Anytime stirring gets difficult, just remove from heat for a 10-15 seconds, stir them well, dig in the perimeter of the pan and return to heat.



  1. These look delicious, and SO addicting!

  2. These just look sooooo good, Colleen!

  3. I am so excited about these almonds! They are GORGEOUS colleen! I am also super extra jealous of your trip to the Sweetest Place on earth. I need that hot chocolate! FYI: I will be hoarding the almonds. All. for. MYSELF.

  4. Oh boy. These look like a TREAT!! I want to make these!

  5. What an amazing holiday tradition! My husband's family lives near Hershey, so we also try to go every year!

    1. It really is wonderful up there, isn't it :)

  6. Colleen, the almonds sound divine! But what sounds even more lovely is the family togetherness! I love that you would want to invite Milton and his wife to share a meal with you. You have such an awesome sparkle of life in you! They would adore you!

    I send a letter to 2 students at the Milton Hershey school 4 times a year. I am so thankful for the structure and education they receive there. It is amazing.

    1. Awww - YOU are the sweetest! That is so cool that you write to them, not enough of us take action for the positive things :)

  7. If only I had the willpower… I would definitely eat the whole batch!

  8. These look amazing Colleen! I can't wait to try this recipe! They would make a lovely gift basket item for sure:)

  9. I do so want to make those!! yummy!

  10. They look so yummy! They definitely wold make great gifts.