Every once in awhile you discover something about yourself that you never knew. For instance, up until recently I thought I was more of a sweet than savory type of gal. A total chocoholic, pie-eating, cookie monster, baked-goods-eating-machine. I've never been one to have very much willpower around sweets. Sadly, I'm one of those people who can rationalize having a slice of fruit pie for breakfast because...well, because it has fruit in it.
So, imagine my surprise when I opened up Joy the Baker's cookbook for the first time and after paging through the most super-duper, absolutely crave-inducing, sinful and indulgent treats around, the first recipe that screamed at me was Joy's Honey Mustard Roasted Cashews. Savory over Sweet? Say What?
When I go nuts, I really go nuts. I also decided to make Joy's Crunchy Cocoa Roasted Almonds. These are such a unique treat. Very crunchy, a little salty, a little sweet, not too chocolatey but just enough chocolate flavor to quell that craving. I hate to say it, but I think I even enjoyed these crunchy cocoa roasted almonds better than the honey mustard roasted cashews. Could this mean chocolate and sweets win out in the end after all?
And, last but not least, I made Joy's Perfect Kettle Corn because my family is absolutely crazy for all things popcorn. This is a simple stovetop recipe for popcorn that includes just the right amount of balance between sweet and salty. It also requires a lot of shaking to get all that goodness evenly distributed. I didn't perfect it the first time around, but I'm convinced I will with practice.
I loved each and every one of these snacks, but my favorite was probably the Crunchy Cocoa Roasted Almonds. There's just something special about them that's hard to put a finger on. Maybe it's because they're the perfect mix between sweet and savory. The perfect snack for those of us who walk the fine line.
Crunchy Cocoa Roasted Almonds
Slightly Adapted from Joy The Baker Cookbook
Makes 3 cups
3 cups raw almonds
6 tablespoons butter
2 large egg whites
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne powder (could use a tad more if you are really into spicy)
Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.
Place almonds on a baking sheet and roast for 15 minutes in the oven. Remove from oven and place in a medium bowl to cool completely.
Place butter on a rimmed baking sheet and melt in the oven for 5- 7 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer with the whisk attachment (I did this by hand with a whisk), add egg whites and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt. Beat on medium speed until frothy. Gradually add sugar. Increase the mixer to medium-high and beat until white and glossy and the egg whites hold almost stiff peaks.
Add the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, the cocoa powder, and cayenne pepper (go big if you like spicy or you will not taste this at all), and beat until well incorporated.
Pour the egg mixture over the toasted almonds and toss together until almonds are evenly coated. Spoon mixture atop the melted butter on the rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 30-40 minutes (30 worked perfectly for me), removing the pan from the oven to toss almonds 2 or 3 times during baking.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before serving. Almonds will keep, in an airtight container, at room temperature for up to a week.
Note: When roasting nuts it is best to allow them to cool to room temperature before testing. When they first come out of the oven they will not have that crispy crunchy texture you are looking for. They need time to cool down and achieve that great crunch.