Sesame Crusted Almonds for a Snack

Nibbles with wine and the news is part of the evening ritual around here. There is always the old cheese and crackers gambit, but I don’t have the kind of metabolism that can burn through slices of cheddar on our favorite multigrain cracker. Same goes for chips and dip which is a rarity. Salsa and corn chips, sometimes, tapenade or humus on pita chips, olives alone, all have their moment from time to time. Personally, I adore salted and smoked almonds, or dry roasted peanuts, and have to watch that I don’t overdo those, either. Toby comes home famished from work and the man can eat his body weight in anything I offer, and, irritatingly enough, never gain a pound.

The upshot is that I am always on the prowl for very tasty and reasonably wholesome nibbles. You may very well be looking for that, too, and I notice that savory snacks abound in the stores. They can be costly. Buying ingredients in bulk at storefront coops or sometimes at the grocery store and making your own is one way to go.

Recently I ran across sesame and honey almonds, which, sure enough, were awfully good, so I read the ingredients and said to myself, how hard can this be to make?

Well, making them is not a slam dunk, but you can produce a reasonable facsimile of the commercial version for less money, as long as you don’t count your hourly pay rate. I like the fact that this recipe calls for honey in greater proportion to sugar than the commercial version, but the downside is extra stickiness. Goodness knows, it didn’t help that I picked a damp, drizzly day to try making them. I also used unhulled sesame seeds, which aren’t as pretty and white as the hulled version, but taste as good. For fun, I tossed a few pecans into the mix, and they are very good prepared this way. I think that walnuts are too bumpy and lumpy to coat. Also, salt and sweet is sometimes a desirable combination, so, if you wish, sprinkle a little salt on the still warm and sticky nuts when you take them out of the oven.

You can also spice these up a bit with cinnamon or chili powder. Add it lightly to the honey mixture, and sample it to determine if you want more.

This is also a good time to pull out parchment paper, or at least waxed paper. You’ll never live long enough to pluck these off a baking pan that they have welded themselves onto.

Parchment paper makes this a much less sticky operation.

Sesame Crusted Honey Almonds

2 cups raw almonds (or pecans or a combination)

1/2 cup honey

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt plus more for sprinkling (optional)

Spice (optional)

Sesame Seeds

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Lay parchment paper on a baking sheet and spread the nuts in a single layer. Toast the nuts for ten minutes. Meanwhile, heat the honey, brown sugar, and salt together in a pan and stir to mix completely. Add the nuts to the honey mixture and coat the nuts. Spread the nuts on the parchment paper and sprinkle generously with the sesame seeds. Using your fingers or a fork, flip the nuts over and sprinkle sesame seeds on the other side. Return the nuts to the oven for about five minutes, remove, and let cool. Break the nuts free from the parchment and each other, and store in an airtight container.

Makes two to three cups of sesame nuts.

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About Sandy Oliver

Sandy Oliver Sandy is a freelance food writer with the column Taste Buds appearing weekly since 2006 in the Bangor Daily News, and regular columns in Maine Boats, Homes, and Harbors magazine and The Working Waterfront. Besides freelance food writing, she is a pioneering food historian beginning her work in 1971 at Mystic Seaport Museum, where she developed a fireplace cooking program in an 1830s house. After moving to Maine in 1988, Sandy wrote, Saltwater Foodways: New Englanders and Their Foods at Sea and Ashore in the 19th Century published in 1995. She is the author of The Food of Colonial and Federal America published in fall of 2005, and Giving Thanks: Thanksgiving History and Recipes from Pilgrims to Pumpkin Pie which she co-authored with Kathleen Curtin. She often speaks to historical organizations and food professional groups around the country, organizes historical dinners, and conducts classes and workshops in food history and in sustainable gardening and cooking. Sandy lives on Islesboro, an island in Penobscot where she gardens, preserves, cooks and teaches sustainable lifeways.