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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Amy Silverman is a two-time winner of the Arizona Press Club’s Journalist of the Year award. Her work has appeared on the radio show This American Life and in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Lenny Letter, and Brain, Child. She’s the co-curator of the live reading series Bar Flies, and a commentator for KJZZ, the NPR affiliate in Phoenix. Silverman is the author of the book My Heart Can’t Even Believe It: A Story of Science, Love, and Down Syndrome (Woodbine House 2016). Follow her on Instagram (@amysilverman), Twitter (@amysilvermanaz), and at