Almonds seemed like the perfect treat -- healthy (pretend healthy, at least) and tasty, particularly with a few sweet additions. But how to find just the right recipe? Have you ever googled the words: sweet and spicy almond recipe?
More than 7 million hits.
And so I wussed out.
I went with Martha. This old recipe -- which includes a warm bath in olive oil and honey, then a dusting of cayenne pepper, coarse salt and sugar -- worked beautifully and was surprisingly easy.
One tip: Be sure the almonds are really toasted. The batch that was a little underdone wasn't as tasty as the on-the-verge-of-burnt one.
After much debate over whether Valentine-themed M&Ms were too tacky, I tossed in a few handfuls of bittersweet chocolate chips and dried cherries (found those at Sunflower Market) and -- with a brazen lack of originality -- named the creation "Almond Joy".
With the added chocolate and cherries, the recipe yielded about a dozen small bags. Not bad for a late night's effort.
Best part (though you might disagree): no coconut.