Sweet Gem Confections: Spicy Dark Chocolate Almonds

I don't think Nancy Biehn of Sweet Gem Confections knows David Lebovitz (that lucky man "living the sweet life in Paris"), but she should.  Lebovitz's rhapsodizing about Pimandes, chocolate covered almonds with chile, sent us on a pilgrimage to Da Rosa last time we were in Paris. And they were good. But now that I've had Biehn's Dark Chocolate Spiced Almonds, I don't know that I care to make that pilgrimage again.  

Biehn's sweet crackernuts are a delicious surprise of taste and texture in your mouth - just the right amount of spicy chocolate giving way to delicate candy shell giving way to crunchy, toasty nut. Man, I love these! 

Like all of Sweet Gem's beautiful chocolates, the almonds are made by hand and in what sounds like an especially time-consuming process. As I understand it, raw almonds turn roasty while being stirred constantly in a heavy pan of sugar that is heated until it carmelizes. The carmelized sugar forms a crunchy shell on the nuts. Once the crackly almonds have cooled, they are dipped in dark chocolate spiced with a secret blend of ancho and cayenne chiles, and cinnamon. And finally, dusted with cocoa powder.  

Not only are the Sweet Gem almonds probably twice as good as Pimandes, they are also only 3 miles from my house rather than 3000.  In addition to the savings on the airfare, a package like the one in the picture, at $10, costs less than half as much as a package of Pimandes. I really can't afford not to buy them - that's what I'm telling the DH.  However, Pimandes is certainly a great name and Spiced Dark Chocolate Almonds doesn't really do justice to this wonderful, artisanal treat.  Suggestions anyone?  

Now that frosty mornings are becoming a regular pattern, it occurs to me that the holidays are sneaking up on us. A small store of these nuts would make great hostess gifts, and they are the perfect size, shape and yummy-ness for the Christmas stocking of someone especially deserving. 

Speaking of gifts, I learned that Nancy will set up custom chocolate-making classes for small groups - what a fun way to celebrate a wedding or baby shower, or get together to make some special handmade treats for the festive season.  

OK David Lebovitz, have you been naughty, or nice enough to get some Spiced Dark Chocolate Almonds? 

Sweet Gem Confections
1928 Packard Road (inside Morgan & York)
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
(734) 929-6513

Also find Sweet Gem chocolates at Arbor Farms, Zingerman's Next Door, Sandhill Crane Winery, and from time to time at the Ann Arbor Farmer's Market.
Copyright 2011 - The Farmer's Marketer