Almond Joy Valentine Treats

After skipping out on both the Jell-O and dip showdowns recently, I decided to whip something up to show the Chow Bella staff some love, in honor of the season.

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.  

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