Burnt Sugar Almonds (Gebrannte Mandeln From Germany)

  • 01 of 09

    How to Make Homemade Candied Almonds

    Homemade almond candy
    The Spruce / J.McGavin

    Not often found in the US, burnt sugar almonds are called "gebrannte Mandeln" in German and are most often purchased at open-air markets such as "Kirmes" "Schuetzenfeste" or "Weihnachtsmaerkte".

    Burnt sugar almonds are caramelized sugar-coated nuts, usually cooked fresh in copper kettles at the festival. Sometimes you can buy them still warm, but they become harder, like brittle, when completely cool. Served in small paper cones in 100-gram portions, " gebrannte Mandeln is a treat you should not pass up if you see them at a stand.

    You can recreate these tasty treats at home if you are so inclined. They are simple to make but take about 30 minutes of careful tending.

    Make a paper cone (Papiertüte) to package your candy.

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  • 02 of 09

    What You Need to Make Burnt Sugar Almonds

    Sugar mixed with vanilla bean
    The Spruce / J.McGavin

    "Gebrannte Mandeln" are sugar-coated almonds flavored with cinnamon and vanilla. The best are made from Largueta almonds from Spain, Ceylon cinnamon, and real vanilla bean. California almonds, the most readily available, make a respectable product too, however. You will need the following utensils and ingredients:

    • 4 to 6 qt. heavy pot (NOT a non-stick pan)
    • A wooden spoon
    • 1 3/4 cups (12 oz.) raw, whole almonds
    • 1/3 cup sugar, plus 3/4 cup sugar
    • 1/2 vanilla bean
    • 1/3 cup water
    • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

    First, scrape the inside of the vanilla bean and add it to the 1/3 cup sugar. We put ours through a sieve with the sugar to break up the sticky seeds and mix it well. Set aside.

    Instead of throwing it away, you can always put the rest of the vanilla bean in with your vanilla sugar to boost its aroma.

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  • 03 of 09

    Mix Sugar, Water and Cinnamon

    Sugar, cinnamon and water in a heavy saucepan
    The Spruce / J.McGavin

    Add the 3/4 cup sugar, 1/3 cup water, and 1 teaspoon cinnamon to the heavy saucepan and set it over medium heat. Stir to mix, then bring it to a boil before adding the almonds.

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  • 04 of 09

    Add the Almonds to the Pan

    Almonds in the sugar water
    The Spruce / J.McGavin

    Add the almonds to the pan after the sugar water comes to a boil. Stir over high heat, to boil the water away.

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  • 05 of 09

    Almonds and Sugar Are Drying out

    The almonds and sugar are drying out
    The Spruce / J.McGavin

    The sugar will finally dry out and the almonds will take on a grey-brown tinge. Keep stirring, so that the almonds do not burn on the bottom of the pan.

    Turn the heat under the pan to medium or medium-low, to keep the sugar from browning too fast and burning.

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  • 06 of 09

    The Sugar Caramelizes on the Almonds

    Making homemade burnt sugar almonds
    The Spruce / J.McGavin

    Turn burner to medium-low.

    At this stage, the sugar heats up and starts to melt. It is already brown from the cinnamon, so it is hard to see the color change. Just keep stirring, so that the almonds become evenly browned and about half of the sugar is melted and gives the almonds a shiny coat.

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  • 07 of 09

    Now Add the Vanilla Sugar to the Almonds

    Adding the vanilla sugar to the mix
    The Spruce / J.McGavin

    A second coating of sugar is added at this point.

    Pour the reserved 1/3 cup sugar over the almonds and stir. Keep stirring, watching the sugar melt and coat the almonds.

    Fresh almonds will start crackling or popping about now. This is residual water in the water expanding or escaping. If the almonds are older, there will not be as much noise.

    Keep stirring until the almonds are fairly shiny, but still a bit lumpy. They will stick together but you will separate them later. When they are shiny, but not burnt (this takes careful watching and decisiveness) remove from heat.

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  • 08 of 09

    Spread the Sugar Coated Almonds Onto a Cookie Sheet

    Spread hot sugar almonds on a cookie sheet
    The Spruce / J.McGavin

    Spread the almonds on a cookie sheet. They are very hot, so only use a spoon. You may also use buttered foil or a buttered cookie sheet, but here we used a non-stick cookie sheet.

    While they are cooling, keep breaking them apart. When they are cool enough, continue breaking them apart with your fingers until they are all separated.

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  • 09 of 09

    As the Almonds Cool They Harden

    Completely cooled, burnt sugar almonds
    The Spruce / J.McGavin

    The burnt sugar almonds can be eaten warm, but when they are fully cooled, the candy coating hardens to a nice crunch. Store them in a dry, closed container. They keep for several weeks if you can refrain from eating them, but almonds will eventually go rancid, so do not keep them too long.

    Here is a 3-minute video of almonds being prepared for sale in a copper kettle and a fancy mixer. It shows a third coating of sugar on the almonds but they explain that this is difficult to recreate at home.

    If you need a thicker coating, remove the almonds to a sieve, melt another cup of sugar in the pan and return the almonds to the caramelized sugar, stirring well. Add several spritzes of water to help the sugar coat evenly. Spread on a cookie sheet and cool as described.

    The clean up is very easy. Fill the pan with water and let it soak a few minutes. The sugar dissolves in the excess water and is simple to remove.