Chocolate Balls with Caramelized Almonds

Yield: about 60

Flavorless oil for the baking sheet
1 1/4 cups (9 ounces) granulated sugar
1/4 cup (2 ounces) water
1 2/3 cups (9 Ounces) whole blanched almonds, at room temperature
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

Lightly oil a baking sheet with a flavorless oil.

Mix the sugar and water in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan. Use an unlined copper sugar-pot if you have one. Cook the syrup over medium heat, stirring once or twice, until the sugar dissolves. Put a candy thermometer in the pan. Wash any sugar crystals from the sides of the pan with a brush dipped in cold water. Continue to cook, without stirring, until the thermometer reaches 248 F.

Remove the thermometer, and turn off the heat. Add the almonds. Stir until the sugar syrup clumps and turns opaque. Over low heat, continue stirring until the sugar remelts and coats the nuts with a caramel-colored syrup. This will take about 20 minutes. If the nuts start to smoke, remove the pan from the heat for a minute, turn down the heat, and continue to cook.

When the sugar has melted again, carefully pour the almonds in the syrup onto the oiled baking sheet. Be careful -- the almonds will be very hot.

When the candy is cool, break it apart. Store it in an airtight container (not in the refrigerator) until you are ready to make the chocolate balls.

Melt the chocolate in a bowl over simmering water. (how to melt chocolate)
Use a food processor to grind the candy into a powder.
Mix the candy powder and the warm chocolate together.
Drop the mixture by teaspoonfuls onto a baking sheet covered with plastic wrap.

Refrigerate the candies until firm, but bring to room temperature before serving.

Source: A Sweet Quartet: Sugar, Almonds, Eggs, and Butter: A Baker's Tour Including 33 Recipes by Fran Gage

more recipes from this cookbook:
- Pumpkin Swirl Cake
- Chocolate Meringue "Sandwiches"
- Puff Pastry

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