sea salt

Dessert, Gluten Free, Fall, Snack, Spring, Summer, Winter, Chocolate



George is like a character you'd find in a fiction novel. He has the quirks of someone made up, except I work with him at Trader Joes demo station in my non-fiction life. He has a curly ponytail, thick glasses, wears shorts year-round, loves beer, does not own a car, cell phone or computer, speaks of the internet like it's something from space. He prefers people at work (both customers and employees) to call him "The Sheriff" and when the song Wild Wild West comes on in the store, he does a little dance complete with his fingers shaped like guns drawn from his make believe holsters, and boogies around the sample station. I can't make this stuff up. If you're not familiar, Trader Joes has a sample station where people come to try a product, and I work the morning shifts after George has worked there the night before. He likes to chat, and to encourage the company of other employees to come talk, he always opens a box of the dark chocolate peanut butter cups. It's like pigeons and breadcrumbs - he opens those up and people flock. When I follow his shift the next morning, there are usually a couple left for me. I've gotten so used to it now that I get sad when there aren't any left under the table. The more people catch on to his secret stash, the less there are to feed my habit at 7 a.m. This is probably a good problem, but I set out to make my own anyway. As far as candy goes, I knew I could make them a little more virtuous at home.

Hugh and I are coming out of a hot cocoa and whipping cream phase and now these almond butter cups are the treat of choice. They are the perfect amount of sweet and rich with the dark chocolate, while the salt on top brightens up the morsel just right. If you're still looking for a Valentine's Day gift or treat to share, these honestly could not be simpler to make and they taste charmingly homemade.


DARK CHOCOLATE ALMOND BUTTER CUPS // Makes 12-14 minis or 6 full sized cups

I fiddled around with this recipe based on a current affinity for the dark chocolate PB cups at Trader Joes and applied some tips from Alana Chernila of The Homemade Pantry. You could use any nut butter you choose, but note that the amount of natural oil will vary by type and brand. The honey and powdered sugar help the nut butter sieze up, so use your judgement and add a bit more if needed. It should be firm enough to roll in a ball, press down and easily hold that shape. Because I know someone will ask, I suppose you could use all honey and no powdered sugar, just expect a more tender center.I use these muffin liners. They look nice and peel away beautifully from the candy.

  • 7 oz. dark chocolate (not to exceed 70%)
  • 1/2 cup natural almond butter
  • 2 Tbsp. honey
  • 1 Tbsp. powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. fine grain salt
  • sea salt flakes for topping

Break up the chocolate and melt in a double boiler (a pot of simmering water with a bowl resting on top). Stir to make sure it is perfectly smooth.

Set out the liners in a mini muffin tin, this helps them hold shape. Spoon about a teaspoon of the chocolate into the bottom. Tilt and twist it around so the chocolate coats the side of the liner and rest it back in the tin. Repeat with remaining papers. Mix the almond butter, honey, powdered sugar, vanilla and salt together until smooth to make the filling. Scoop out a tsp. of the almond butter filling and gently roll it into a ball between your palms. Give it a press down and center it on top of the thin chocolate puddle. Repeat. Spoon chocolate, about another tsp., on top of each almond butter ball to cover completely. You may need to add a few drops more to get the chocolate to level above the bump of the almond butter. Sprinkle a teensy pinch of flaked sea salt on each one and chill in the fridge to set.

They can be kept in a covered container at room temperature or fridge.

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Snack, Gluten Free



So, yesterday I was partaking in one of those extremely overpriced flavored nut packs, and as tasty as they were, I couldn't help but think "I can totally figure out how to make these myself". Some ladies buy fancy shoes, fancy purses, or fancy makeup... I spoil myself with fancy snacks. However, as my days of corporate employment are coming to a close, a girl must learn to make fancy snacks on her own. I studied their salty, crispy parmesan crust and mix of herbs. I finished the bag (not difficult since there are about nine almonds per package) and set forth to make my own. No time to waste, I get a rush out of things like this.


A plain almond only satiates the mildest of hunger, but my goodness, these almonds are like the princess of nut snacks. They are the fancy shoe, fancy purse and fancy makeup of the snack family. I will show you big fancy nut company! Mine are fresh and I can have more than nine at a time! It's the little things isn't it?


The spice measurements here are pretty moderate, if you like it spicier or love lemon for example, adjust as you desire. I know the sugar seems a bit out of place here, but it helps with the crust. Also, because ovens are all a bit different, test them after the recommended time. Note that they will dry out and crisp up even more once they cool out of the oven.

3 Cups/16 oz. Raw Almonds

2 Small Egg Whites (OR 1 Extra Large Egg White)

1/3 Cup Fresh Thyme Leaves

2 Tsp. Red Pepper Flakes

1 Tbsp. Dried Oregano

1 Tbsp. Garlic Powder

3 Tbsp. Lemon Zest

2 tsp. Black Pepper

1 1/2 Tbsp. Natural Cane Sugar/Sucanat

Sea Salt


1/2 Cup Finely Grated Parmesan Cheese

Oven to 275'

1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil. In a bowl, or pestle and mortar, add the thyme, red pepper, oregano, garlic powder, black pepper, lemon zest and sugar together. If you have a pestle and mortar, grind all of the spices together to break them up a bit. You won't get much of a paste, but the thyme should break down a bit and the red peppers will get smaller. Otherwise, the back of a heavy spoon will suffice as well.

2. Whisk the egg whites until frothy (about 2 minutes). Add the almonds, and fold them over to coat. Add the spices mixture and mix again until they seem evenly distributed.

3. Spread the nuts out on the baking sheet and give them all a very generous grind of sea salt. Sprinkle half of the parmesan evenly, and toss to coat. Make sure the nuts are spread in a single layer, and sprinkle the remaining cheese on top of the nuts. At this point, I added a fresh grind of black pepper all over, but that is your choice.


4. Bake in the middle rack for 25 minutes. Remove to cool completely before serving. And a final little dusting of parmesan when they are hot out of the oven never hurt anyone either.

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