I love chocolate, so I was thrilled to get a large jar of cocoa-coated almonds for my birthday from my Dad. These treats are pretty guild-free, since the cocoa adds very little sugar or additional fats, and even adds some healthy antioxidants. As I crunched a few of these savory-sweet treats, I immediately thought of a way to make them EVEN BETTER! Who doesn’t love the surprising and addictive combination of sweet, salty, and smokey? As I’ve said before, Pimenton, or Spanish smoked paprika, is my secret weapon to create healthy foods that are irresistable. Pimenton comes in three versions: Dulce (literally ‘sweet,’ but it doesn’t taste sweet to me, just not at all spicy), Agridulce (mildly spicy) and Picante (spicy). Our family likes spicy foods, so we always go with Picante! Adding Matcha to the mix is a favorite way to add healthy antioxidants and an umami boost (which means you can go a little lighter on the salt), and sometimes I include a little cumin for a Mexican hot chocolate vibe. A little experimentation, and this decadent-but-very-healthful snack was born:
Smokey-Spicy-Matcha and Cocoa Almonds
2 cups raw almonds
2 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tsp salt
½ to 1 tsp Matcha
½ to 1 tsp Spanish Smoked Paprika (choose the heat to taste)
1 cup (or a bit more) Cocoa Almonds
Pre heat oven to 325 degrees.
Spread 2 cups of raw almonds on a cookie sheet, and bake for 8 – 11 minutes, until the nuts are well-toasted. Immediately put the nuts into a bowl, and drizzle the oil over the hot nuts. Sift the spice/matcha/salt mixture over the nuts and toss to coat evenly. Return the nuts to the cookie sheet to cool thoroughly. When cool, mix in the cocoa almonds, and store in an airtight container. Perfect with cocktails and soft cocktails!