Less than 72 hours... I simply can't wrap my head around the fact that I'm going to Sydney for a month on Monday, aaahhh!!! Escape the snow and ice and jump to midsummertime at the other end of the world. Hopefully the first time in years that I will get a proper tan, without the sunburn please, although I'll be right under the ozon hole. Sunbathing, beach, surfing, koala bears, kangaroos... There's so many things I want to do and see and I can't wait to go to all the markets, bakeries and restaurants - Sydney's supposed to be a foodie paradise and I will put Helen's recommendations of http://grabyourfork.blogspot.com/ to the test.
They gay and lesbian mardi gras will be on while I'm there and I'm looking forward to dressing up and going to see the crazy parades as well as visiting lots of photography exhibitions and hopefully getting to travel around a bit and go bungee jumping - something the big adrenaline junkie in me has always wanted to do! ( And which my mum and my boyfriend are giving out to me about... spoilasports! )
I would really like to go to New Zealand too, go snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef and have a "shrimp on the barbie" on the beach... all things ozzie so. =)
Today I bought lots of sunscreen and after sun lotion, raided my sister's closet for more nice summer clothes despite needing a lot of luggage space for serious shopping over there, and had a mild heart attack when I found out that national train workers are supposed to go on strike in 2 days, ekkk...!!! Aren't the icy weather conditions bad enough as it is, do we really need a strike on top of that?! Madness.
All that after I found out that I had to wait around Seoul airport jet-lagged for 7 seven hours one way and have to stay overnight in Korea on my way back and will need to wear anti-thrombosis stockings. But that's the price you have to pay for going to Australia and I strongly believe it's worth it. My opinion might change after 2 consecutive 10-hour flights and a 2-day journey but I'm sure the ocean will quickly make up for that.
Now let me tell you about these labour-intensive but delicious and crunchy coated almonds. 2 words: 4 layers! And lots and lots of stirring, serious anti-bingo wings work out! They really take quite a while to make and the amount you end up seems kind of disappointing for all the labour so I seriously recommend making the double amount because it takes the same amount of time but would be so much more worth the effort! Hm, they're really yummy though and would make for a great gift if you have some left-over and haven't devoured them all yourself! Once you start eating them it's incredibly hard to stop.... I literally had to hide the container I kept them in from my dad because he would have gobbled them all up in one go otherwise!
The recipe I used is in French, which is why I had to concentrate more in order to get it right - my French has got a bit rusty recently I have to admit... It's probably advisable to use a candy thermometer but I did fine without one, even so it actually made me finally buy a food thermometer last week.
Here's the original recipe from "La tarte auch fromache" and I'll try my best to translate this recipe for you now....
Chocolate and Sugar coated Almonds
125 gr almonds with their skin on
100 + 50 gr confectioner's sugar
75 gr milk chocolate
150 gr dark chocolate (or more if desired)
Mix 100 gr of sugar and 30 gr of water in a heavy pot and bring to the boil. Increase the temperature to 120°C, remove from the heat and add the almonds. Mix in the almonds with a wooden spoon until the sugary mixture completely covers the nuts. The syrup will cristallise i.e. turn white and solidify.
Pour the almonds onto a tray and let them set. Use the same pot with the left-over sugar residue and add 50 gr of sugar and 30 gr of sugar. Heat it up until you have a clear caramel, don't let it get too hot! Turn off the heat and mix the almonds into the caramel with the wooden spoon until they're all coated again. Now pour them out onto the tray again and let them cool.
While the almonds are cooling melt the milk chocolate in a medium-sized bowl over a double boiler and set it aside until the temperature has cooled down to 25°C degrees.
Add the almonds and toss them in the chocolate. You have to keep mixing for quite a while until all the almonds are coated and the chocolate turns a dull colour, which is a sign that it has cooled down completely.
This coating ensures that the almonds stay fresh and none of the almond oil gets out which would make them go rancid.
Now melt the dark chocolate over a double boiler, take it off the heat and let it cool down to 27°C.
Pour the almonds into a big bowl and add a bit of dark chocolate. Stir in the chocolate with the wooden spoon until the nuts are all coated and the chocolate dulls. Only when this has happened and the chocolate has dried and cooled do you add another spoonful of chocolate. Repeat this process until all the chocolate is used and keep stirring for a little longer.
Finally pour the almonds into a new bowl and toss them with the cocoa powder until they're all evenly covered. Leave the nuts for an hour and repeat the process.
Variations: It's possible to add some alcohol to the nuts before you cover them in cocoa by adding 2 cc of rum, calvados etc ...
The chocolate-covered almonds keep for up to a year stored in an air-tight container.