Italian recipes for a Holiday Gift & Crocante con Mandorle

I have written several posts in the recent weeks with recipes that make great gifts. Giving something you have spent your time and effort on is always a great way to show people the importants of their friendship. During the holidays I prepare several of my favorite recipes-those that lend themselves to the spirit of the holidays and prepare gift packages for each of my friends.

Buying different dishes from flea markets for example or funky containers can be fun to search for during the year. You can also cover boxes with textiles or glue wrapping paper and items you find at a craft store to make your own unique packaging

I make my own greeting cards with photo’s that represent the items I include in my gift and print them on a photo internet site. Print out the recipe in colored script and rolled them up, tied with a ribbon. If I am using a bottle of lemomcello – I add small cordial glasses. With Crocante con Mandorle (Italian almond brittle), I might find a nice candy dish at a flea market, or package it in clear cello bags. Many craft shops or restaurant supply stores have items like this and if you keep an eye open for them year round you can buy them when they have sales and store them away for your holiday gifts. Handwrite your labels, or design your own label on an Internet site. It is easy and fun to have your own label on your homemade items.

Here are some of my suggestions from past posts that you might consider for a special Christmas gift.

Lemoncello plus two cordial glasses

Panettone cups wrapped in cello paper tied with ribbons

Almond Biscotti “Cantucci” Recipe

Almond Biscotti


Taralli: An Italian national biscotti


Crocante con Mandorle
Italian Almond Brittle

Recipe Summary
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 18 minutes or until the thermometer reaches 238ºF, hard crack stage
Yield: 2 pounds

Italian Almond Brittle

4 cups whole almonds, roasted
3 cups sugar
4 drops almond oil or
2 teaspoons almond extract
1 tablespoon water
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup light corn syrup

Candy thermometer

Heat the oven to 400ºF. Place the almonds on a rimmed baking sheet and toast them until lightly golden brown (about 15 minutes) and set aside.

Prepare a separate baking sheet and brush it with almond oil or 1 teaspoon almond extract. If you have a Teflon baking mat, place it on the baking sheet and brush it with the almond oil. If you are using extract, first brush the sheet with butter.

In a medium or heavy-bottom saucepan, combine sugar and water and cook over medium-high heat until it registers 238ºF on a candy thermometer (hard crack stage). When the sugar and water turn to liquid add the honey and corn syrup and 2 drops of almond oil or 1 teaspoon of extract (almond oil is stronger). If you don’t have a candy thermometer, use a glass of cold water and after about 15 minutes, drop a little of the syrup into the cold water. If it turns into a hard ball the candy is done. If not, keep cooking it and testing the syrup until you get a hard ball. Do not stir; brush the sugar crystals from the sides of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in water when necessary. This will prevent hard crystals from dropping into the candy. Once the sugar begins to brown, watch carefully and remove from the heat as soon as it reaches the desired golden deep copper color.

Immediately add the toasted almonds into the candy and stir quickly to coat them. They should be completely covered with the syrup. Work very fast at this point, as the candy will begin to cool and turn hard. Spread the brittle quickly to an even thickness in the pan. Let the almond brittle cool completely and then break it into pieces by dropping the sheet on the counter. At this point you can wrap each piece in cellophane wrapping paper or serve on a candy dish.

Note: Whole almonds are used in Italy and I find more flavorful. Sliced almonds are easier to eat; it is a matter of taste. This brittle is very hard. Roasted hazelnuts are also used in this recipe.



~ by Patricia Turo on December 5, 2009.

4 Responses to “Italian recipes for a Holiday Gift & Crocante con Mandorle”

  1. I am very happy to find this website, I could learn a few things that I do not understand. Can I post recipes of seafood porridge?


  2. […] Situated in the North, in the Po Valley, Bologna’s cuisine is mainly cured pork meats such as prosciutto, mortadella and salami, as well as cheese, such as the world renowned Parmigiano Reggiano. Tagliatelle al ragù (pasta with meat sauce, i.e. the famous spaghetti alla Bolognese), tortellini served in broth, mortadella and Zampone (boned stuffed pigs foot) are among the local specialties. Tortellini (small, stuffed ring shaped pasta), Tagliatelle (ribbon shaped pasta), and the spinach pasta verde are typical pasta varieties. Wonderful small restaurants can be found everywhere and the food is outstanding. Pasta with white truffles, beautiful grilled porcini mushrooms, wild meats such as venison, mutton and bore are seasonal specialties. Don’t forget the desserts. One of my very favorite is sfogliatelle (crispy pastry layers stuffed with ricotta). I was lucky enough to have a bakery just across the street where I could go for my morning cappuccino and savor a warm, just out of the oven sfogliatelle. I couldn’t wait to get up and out to the pasticceria and sometimes had to wait, as the first trays weren’t out of the oven yet. Zuccherino montanaro, biscotti flavored with anise and frosting infused with anise liqueur. Zuppa Inglese made with pan di Spagna soaked in liquor and filled with a pastry cream are famous. Dolce di San Michele, a cake in honor of the city’s patron eaten on the 29th of September, La Pinza, a pastry filled with raisins, almonds, and prune jam and Torta di riso, Bologna’s rice cake, Brocante con mandorle can be found all along the streets in huge sheets sold by vendors. This is similar to a brittle but harder and thicker using whole roasted almonds and/or hazel nuts. I love this candy, but am very careful, as it is so hard that you can easily break your teeth. (My recipe can be found on my blog…). […]


  3. Reblogged this on Piacere – Food & Travel without rules!.


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