Afghans are predominantly Muslim, so Christmas is not celebrated in Afghanistan. As a little girl, I spent nights pondering how Santa Clause knew my family is Muslim and therefore didn't deliver presents to me but my American friends, children of diplomats in Kabul, did get a delivery of fancy toys. I finally decided that they must have CHRISTIAN written on their roof so when Santa flew over their house, he knew to drop down their chimney. Perhaps Mr. Trump would like all MUSLIM Americans to identify their homes with red letters, so his Gestapo can drop down their chimney.
No matter what religion you practice, I wanted to share this recipe, so you can surprise your family and friends with this unexpected sweet gift—Afghan Almond Brittle—instead of the predictable box of chocolate.
This almond brittle features the subtle yet distinct flavor of cardamom along with several options to play with the seasonings. The biggest challenge with this recipe is to get it into the gift bag or jar before you’ve gobbled it all up. The crunchy sweet Afghan combo is highly addictive.
Cardamom Almond Brittle
Khasta e Shereen
1 ½ cup granulated sugar
1 lb. unsalted roasted almonds*
1 1/2 teasspoon ground cardamom
Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread the almonds in a single layer on the baking sheet, grouping them all together with no spaces between the nuts.
Heat the sugar in a heavy-bottom saucepan over medium heat, stirring regularly. The sugar will eventually turn to liquid. Continue to cook, stirring all the while, until the sugar is golden brown. Add the cardamom and cook a little longer until it reaches a deep amber color and smooth texture. The whole process of caramelizing the sugar will take about 15 to 20 minutes.
Drizzle the sugar in a thin stream evenly over the top of the almonds, covering them all. Cool completely. Break up the almonds with your fingers into two-bite pieces. Store in a jar with a tight lid or package for gifts.
*if you buy raw almonds, toast them in a 325 degree oven for 10 minutes before doing the recipe
You can use a number of ingredients to lend different flavors to your nuts. In place of cardamom (the traditional Afghan flavor) try the following:
Stir 1/3 cup cocoa nibs into the melted sugar in place of the cardamom
Add ½ teaspoon ground cayenne or ground black pepper to the melted sugar in place of the cardamom
Sprinkle 3/4 teaspoon fleur de sel over the top of the caramelized sugar after you’ve poured it on the almonds. The salt will be delicious with or without the cardamom.
For more holiday gift giving ideas, Afghan and otherwise, check out the recipes here.
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