Marcona almonds are sometimes called the “Queen of almonds” by those who believe there are nut kingdoms. They’re a Spanish variety of almond, a little flatter and squatter than the more narrow Californian almond you might be familiar with. Many of us have been teased by these sumptuous and outrageously priced nuts. Instead emptying your bank account to buy some, pick up a bag of basic, raw almonds and give them the Marcona treatment yourself.
What are Marcona almonds?
Preparing Marconas usually involves blanching their skin off, then frying them or confit-style slow-cooking them over low heat in olive oil. The prized almonds are then packaged with their cooking oil, a healthy scattering of coarse salt, and sometimes a smattering of herbs. The result is crunchy, buttery, and divine, perfect when served alongside a plate of Spanish cheeses or conspicuously topping a gem salad. However, as they are a relatively rare variety, a meager four ounces might require you to recalibrate the rest of your grocery budget.
How to make Marcona almonds at home
Luckily for us budget-focused shoppers, the cooking method for Marcona almonds is something you can do with any old almond. The best way to give your almonds the Marcona-treatment is to start with whole, raw almonds. If you can find skinless, pre-blanched, almonds, you’ll save yourself a step, but if you can only find skin-on that’s fine; Blanching nuts is incredibly simple. Boil a pot of lightly salted water, dump in the almonds, and leave them for one minute. Take the nuts out of the water and toss them onto a clean tea towel. Use the towel to scrub them dry and the skins will slip right off. Any remaining skins can be pinched off with little effort.
The next step is cooking the nuts in oil so they become crispy without taking on too much colour. I find that the easiest way to do this is to toss the skinless almonds with a couple tablespoons of good quality extra virgin olive oil until they’re well coated. Spread them out onto a foil-lined sheet tray with any remaining olive oil and bake in a 300°F oven for about 30 minutes, taking them out to flip every 10 minutes. Hang around near the oven during the last 10 minutes and be ready to remove them in case they seem finished a minute or two early.
The almonds are done once they’ve reached a creamy, even golden colour, with few to no dark spots. Toss the almonds with a hefty helping of flaky salt and the optional chopped herbs. Serve in a bowl along with any of the remaining cooking oil.
Of course, California almonds will never be “true” Marcona almonds, but this preparation will give them similar heaps of texture, flavour, and satisfaction. They’re an ideal accessory for your next party spread, and might leave a few of your guests thinking you splurged on a pound of the pricey stuff. Your “Mar-faux-na” almonds will keep for up to a few months if stored in an airtight container in a cool, dark place.
- 1 cup raw almonds (about 5 1/2 ounces)
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 tablespoon flaky salt
Preheat the oven to 150°C. Line a baking sheet with foil.
Blanch almonds in boiling water for one minute and pinch the skins off.
Toss the blanched, dry, skinless almonds with olive oil until well coated. Spread them onto the baking sheet into an even layer along with any excess olive oil. Bake for 25-30 minutes at 150°C, removing the tray from the oven every 10 minutes to flip and rotate the almonds. During the last 10 minutes, keep an eye on the almonds to remove them if they’re ready. The almonds are done when they’re evenly, lightly toasted, with no browned spots, and fragrant.
Remove the almonds from the oven and take the foil off of the baking sheet. Allow the almonds to cool completely, about 30-40 minutes. Toss them with flaky salt and serve in a bowl with any remaining cooking oil.
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