Q. We recently were served at a bar (which I think was the Ritz-Carlton in San Francisco but can't really remember we were, after all, drinking!), whole almonds in what seemed to be chili powder. These were served in lieu of the traditional roasted peanuts. Do you have a recipe for making these almonds?
A. Like anything else, there are probably a number of recipes for spiced almonds. One version we came across online is from Matthew Kenney’s Mediterranean Cooking (Canada, UK):
Spread a pound of blanched almonds in single layer on a baking sheet and toast at 350° F (175°C) for 17 minutes, or until browned. While the nuts are cooling, mix 1/4-cup of sugar, a tablespoon of cinnamon, 1/4-teaspoon of sweet paprika, and a pinch of cloves (if you like cloves) in a small bowl. Season to taste with cayenne. When the nuts are cool, drizzle them with 2 tablespoons of honey and toss. Sprinkle the spice mixture on the nuts and toss them again until they are covered evenly. Put them back in the oven for 5 to 10 minutes, or until nuts are brown and shiny. Remove and let cool.
Martha Stewart has another method (for a crowd, and, considering the amount of hot oil involved, we recommend staying sober as you prepare this):
Poach 4 cups of blanched almonds in a large pot of boiling water for 1 minute. Remove them, shake off as much water as possible, and toss them immediately with a mixture of 4 cups of sugar, a teaspoon of kosher salt, 2 tablespoons paprika, a teaspoon of cayenne pepper, and a teaspoon of ground cumin. Afterwards, fill a saucepan or electric fryer to a depth of approximately 3 inches with peanut oil and heat to 340° F to 350°F (170°C to 175°C). Fry the nuts in the oil until they begin to turn golden brown; remove them with a strainer and toss a second time in the sugar and spices. Remove, shake off the excess, and let them cool on a wire rack. The nuts will turn crispy as they cool.