The issue of what to do with leftover home-smoked almonds doesn't come up often in our household - they are usually gone too fast. Recently, however, we smoked a big enough batch that they somehow managed to outlast the initial wave of gluttony.
Faced with these rarefied leftover almonds, we decided to try making them into a brittle. Neither one of us really has much of a sweet tooth, but if you add nuts to the equation we're all over it. We found an almond brittle recipe in Mario Batali's Holiday Food and went from there.
The recipe is pretty simple. Coarsely chop some smoked almonds, then toast them in the oven a few minutes to make sure they're nice and crunchy. Put plain, white sugar into a sauce pan along with a little water to moisten it and set over medium heat. Watch carefully - it will be clear and bubble vigorously as the water cooks off, but once it starts turning from straw to caramel colored you will need to move fast. Just before it hits the color you want, pull the pan from the heat and quickly stir in the nuts. Immediately spread the mixture out on a sheet pan lightly greased with butter or lined with a Silpat.
Once it's cool, the candy can easily be snapped into small, irregular pieces. You can adjust the flavor by varying the darkness of the caramel - cooked to just tan, it'll be rather toffee flavored, but cooked to a deep caramel color it will be more intense with a slight bitterness to it. Since the smoked almonds are already intense, we found that we prefer it on the lighter side of caramel.
This recipe can easily be doubled or even quadrupled.
1 cup Smoked Almonds
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons water
Coarsely chop the smoked almonds and spread them out on a sheet pan. Toast them in a 400°F oven for about 5 minutes, then set aside to cool. Lightly grease another sheet pan with butter, or line it with a Silpat baking mat.
Put the sugar into a small, heavy-bottom sauce pan. Stir in 2 tablespoons of water and set over medium heat. Without stirring, let the sugar come to a boil and watch carefully until it starts turning a golden, caramel color (about 15 minutes). Just before it hits the color you want, pull the pan from the heat and quickly stir in the nuts. Immediately dump the mixture onto the prepared sheet pan and use a silcone spatula to spread it out into an even layer about a quarter-inch thick.
Let the candy cool completely and then break it into attractive, irregular pieces. Stored in an airtight container, the brittle will keep for several weeks.