In Sweden we celebrate something called advent, I’m sure you’ve heard of it. In the small and big towns around Sweden there’s Christmas fairs every advent, and many people like to visit them with their families and friends. One of the things you can expect to see on a Swedish Christmas market are the small stalls run by friendly people selling food, often artisanal, handmade goods of high quality. There are often sausages, smoked fish, jams, honey, confectionary and mustard, all spreading a lovely smell everywhere that makes everyone hungry even if you’ve already eaten. One of these smells that I remember fondly is the nutty smell of “brända mandlar” (candied almonds) with just a hint of slightly burnt sugar.
In the cold months you’d often see the people making candied almonds in their stalls, not only in December. There would be freezing outside with temperatures too often below -10 degrees C but still they’d stand there in their stalls, stirring the giant pot filled with almonds and sugar and serving up customers with nuts in small, brown paper bags. You’d be lured in by the smell and buy a bag and eat them while they’re still warm and then you’d go back and buy another bag of them because you just ate all the ones you previously bought.
Brända mandlar are easy to make, so there’s no need to attend a market in the freezing cold, although that could be a lovely experience for other reasons. They’re quick to make, moreish and very likeble so why don’t you make some? You wont regret a thing, apart from not making more of them. You don’t need to get the amounts of the ingredients exact, the numbers are just a rough guide.
200 g almonds
200 g sugar
0.5 dl water
Put the sugar and the water in a frying pan and bring to the boil. Boil the sugar and the water until all the water appears to have dissolved (the bubbles should now disappear slower because of the viscosity of the sugar). Splash a little bit more water on top (a couple of tablespoons maybe) and quickly put the almonds in the frying pan, stir all the time until all the liquid in the pan is gone and the almonds looks like in my photos, put them on a greaseproof paper and separate any almonds that stuck together.