Christmas is almost here and my kitchen is so busy and messy with me preparing all small edible gifts for family and friends (and having all the baking done to make my home bakery’s customers happy)! As you probably already know in this season I like baking plenty of Italian Cantucci Biscotti and Baci di Dama, but those require quite a bit of time in the oven. The treat I am writing about today is traditional during Christmas period in the South of Italy (Calabria), it’s very fast to prepare and with just three ingredients: oven baked almonds, honey (good quality one) and granulated sugar. The result is a super crunchy caramel bar, sweet but not too much, and absolutely addictive: once you start eating it you can’t help but keep eating until you’ve eaten whole thing!
I have to tell you that I brought these “Croccante” mini bars to my local Freight House Farmers Market in the past weeks and they sold very very good! One of the reason, besides the fact that it’s delicious, it’s probably because this treat is EGGS FREE, LACTOSE FREE and GLUTEN FREE.
This recipe requires 10 minutes max, plus the time to bake the almonds if they are not already baked. With these quantities you will obtain about 12 pieces about 3oz. (or 100) big.
Be aware that to prepare the Croccante you will need a food thermometer.
1.10 lb. (500 gr.) oven baked peeled almond
7 oz. (200 gr.) granulated sugar
5 oz. (150 gr.) best quality honey (I used organic clover honey)
If your almonds are not already baked, bake it at 360 F. for about 10 minutes and let it cooling off.
Cover your working surface with parchment.
In a big non-stick pan bring honey and sugar to boil and keep stirring until the mix reaches 338 F. (170 C.). Keeping the temperature controlled will avoid the caramel to burn and taste bitter.
At this point, take away the caramel from the heat, add the almonds, mix quickly the ingredients and pour the mix on the parchment paper (or on a marble surface). With a wet rolling pin flat the mix as thin as possible. Let it cool off and cut in bars as big as you wish.
The cutting phase will be easier if you’ll use a sharp knife, slightly wet with water.
LEARN IT, MADE IT, LOVED IT!!!!!
TIPS: – When still hot the mixture can be shaped in different shapes, like a star, or a Christmas Tree, or whatever you may like.
– Be very careful while you are handling the hot mixture because it will be very hot and the chances to get burned are very high (especially if you are not an expert). The first time I prepared Croccante I burned all my left fingertips plus my lips because I was so an anxious to eat the Croccante that I put the hot ladle in my mouth! Vey bad idea! But it was soo good!!!
– Best way to store the Croccante is inside a tin, in a cool and dry room. It will last for days.
– As cute edible Christmas gift, you can cut the Croccante, wrap it in parchment and tie it with kitchen wire.
I really hope you enjoyed my recipe this week, I promise, you will fall in love with this easy treat!
I wish you all a very Merry Christmas!
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IN CASE YOU DON’T KNOW,
my ITALIAN desserts are available upon orders in the QUAD CITIES AREA.
Check out my HOME BAKERY PAGE to learn more!