We seem to have missed the memo on law school. But as friend after friend tackles 1L and then suffers indeterminately through barbri courses and the bar, we’re pretty ok with it. One said friend is just weeks from her exam, and as the others before her, sounds a bit panicked. So we decided to send some sweet encouragement in the absence of being close enough for hugs. We consulted with a recent bar success on what one craves when studying 12 hours a day, and came up with a salty sweet combo we hope will do the trick.
First, Martin’s Pretzels from the Union Square Greenmarket, unparalleled and satisfyingly salty, and Trader Joe’s wasabi peas which are totally addictive, and perfect for nervous (or mindless) snacking. Add to that some homemade honey roasted almonds with herbes de provence – a sweet compliment to the peas – and orange almond biscotti to accompany the copious amounts of coffee we assume our friend is consuming, and voilà. Some study sustenance, all of which mails well and will keep for at least a week. Sent off this morning. Fingers crossed!
roasted almonds with honey + herbes de provence
We whip up these delicious almonds for almost every party. They’re perfect alongside a plate of cheeses and membrillo, or set out in corners destined for long, hushed conversations.
If you don’t have “official” herbes de provence on hand, you can approximate with a combination of whatever you do have. The mix typically contains savory, fennel, basil, thyme, and lavender flowers. The almonds would also be delicious with rosemary or another of your favorite herbs or spices that pairs well with honey.
The only trick here is keeping them from staying too sticky, and be forewarned that we’ve never figured out how to prevent fingers from coming away slightly shiny with oil. Put out extra napkins.
3 cups raw almonds
3 tablespoons honey (the darker and more deeply flavored the better)
2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
2 tablespoons water
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons herbs
Spread almonds on a cookie sheet and toast in the oven at 350F, stirring every so often, for 10 to 15 minutes, until hot and golden.
In a medium sized pot (we usually use a wok here, the shape is perfect for even coating and heat) heat the honey, oil and water over a medium flame until the honey dissolves slightly. Add your toasted almonds, mix well, and continue to cook, mixing the almonds frequently until they absorb most of the liquid. They won’t absorb all of it. This will take about 7 – 10 minutes. Turn off the heat, and let sit for a minute or so. The honey will begin to set and separate from the oil. If there’s a lot of extra liquid left unabsorbed, spoon it out and discard. Mix the almonds again to coat them fully with the cooling honey.
Mix together the sugar and herbs, and sprinkle over your almonds, mixing well. When almonds are fully coated, spread on a piece of parchment paper to cool, and harden. You can separate the almonds while still hot or, break apart almond clusters later once cold.
Store in an airtight container until ready to serve! (If you can resist eating them immediately, that is.)
orange almond biscotti
Homemade biscotti are just delicious – far better than store-bought, which tend towards dry and flat tasting. This recipe’s a particularly good one, adapted from the lovely Smitten Kitchen, flavorful and crunchy and perfect for tea or coffee. Depending on how big you cut your biscotti, you’ll have 3 to 4 dozen.
3 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/3 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon orange liqueur (we substituted the juice of the orange we were zesting instead here, which turned out beautifully)
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 cup whole almonds, toasted and coarsely chopped
1 large egg white
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Sift flour, baking powder and salt into medium bowl. Mix sugar, melted butter, 3 eggs, vanilla extract, orange liqueur (or juice) and zest in large bowl. Since the butter’s melted, it’s easy enough to do this by hand with a whisk. Add flour mixture to egg mixture and stir with wooden spoon until well blended. Mix in almonds.
Divide dough in half. The dough will be soft and a bit sticky, especially if you substitute orange juice for the liqueur. Don’t add flour to the dough, though, as this will result in a tough cookie later. Instead, sprinkle generously with flour and using floured hands, shape each dough half into 13 1/2-inch-long, 2 1/2-inch-wide log. We shaped the logs directly on the prepared baking sheet – spaced apart to allow room for the dough to spread in baking. You could instead shape them on a floured surface and then transfer. Pat the logs into neat(ish) rectangles. Whisk egg white in small bowl until foamy; brush over top and sides of each dough log.
Bake logs until golden brown, about 30 minutes. Cool logs completely on sheet on rack, about 25 minutes (if you cut the biscotti while still hot, the half-baked cookie with break.) Maintain oven temperature.
Once cool, transfer logs to work surface; discard parchment paper. Using serrated knife, cut logs on diagonal into 1/2-inch-wide slices. Arrange slices, cut side down, on the same baking sheet. Bake 12 minutes. Turn biscotti over; bake until just beginning to color, about 8 minutes. Transfer to rack and cool.
Store in an airtight container at room temperature. They’ll keep a week, if not more.