Caramel Almond Bites
Croccantini di Mandorle
Caramel almond bites are brittle caramelized almonds arranged on a bed of shortcrust pastry, which makes it just a little less sweet and hard than the traditional croccante alle mandorle.
Many Italian regions and towns have their own traditional version of croccante alle mandorle, a type of confectionary normally made from only two ingredients, ie. sugar and almonds. However, a great many variations can be found as regards the type of nuts and the addition of honey and spice. This version is inspired by a visit to Sciacca in Sicily. It is more brittle than the luxurious almond tart and Tosca cake, although there are similarities. And the bite sized cakes are perfect finger food for Italian buffets and parties.
Try also to make salted caramel almond bites by replacing the lemon zest in the caramel filling with ½ tsp of salt.
For the shortcrust pastry
75 g cold butter
150 g flour
1 tbsp icing sugar
1 tsp baking powder
For the caramel filling
100 g blanched almonds
50 g pine nuts
100 g cane sugar
50 g butter
2 tbsp honey
50 ml double cream
Grated lemon zest
Mix flour, icing sugar and baking powder
Crumble the butter into the dry ingredients
Add a little water and press the shortcrust pastry together.
Wrap the pastry up in cling film and leave it to rest in the fridge for an hour or more.
Turn on the oven at 175 C / 350 F.
Roll the pastry out in a thin square and place it in a baking tin.
Prick the pastry with a fork and pre-bake it for 8 minutes.
Meanwhile prepare the filling.
Heat up sugar, honey, butter, cream and a tablespoon of grated lemon zest over moderate heat in a thick bottomed casserole.
Chop the blanched almonds coarsely
Mix almonds and pine nuts into the caramel mixture and pour it over the shortcrust pastry.
Continue baking the caramel almond bites for another 20 minutes until the topping is golden brown.
Let the cake cool before cutting it into bite sized squares with a sharp knife.