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Mexican Hot Chocolate Spiced Almonds

So, guess what.

Today is my birthday!

I still love birthdays–I just don’t really care that it’s kind of obnoxious when people get super riled up about their birthdays and wear tiaras and birthday girl shirts they’d never wear in real life when they go out to bars, even though I don’t do all any of that.  I mostly get excited about going out to dinner (drinking fun cocktails and ordering appetizers), opening all the birthday cards we’ve collected in the mail (that are oddly now always cat-themed), and, alright, jumping around and opening presents.  And milking it for all I’m worth when it comes to Fritz doing whatever I want all day long.

Though I don’t ever extend my birthday into the whole month.  Gotta keep it to one day if I’m going to maintain the power of having Fritz do my bidding without question.

I also just realized that the above paragraphs kinda sounded snotty about ladies who love their birthdays.  It doesn’t really bother me when they do all that above stuff.  In fact, I’d much rather be friends with the person who freaks out about their birthday all month than the person who purposely keeps quiet all year so they can test how much their friends and family love them.

Actually, I just love everyone.  And because today (the 15th) is my birthday (have you heard?), I’m going to give you the gift of these almonds.


Mexican Hot Chocolate Spiced Almonds

  • 3 T maple syrup
  • 2 T brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 t salt
  • 1/2 t cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 t cinnamon
  • 2 C raw almonds
  • 1 1/2 T unsweetened cocoa powder


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Combine everything except the almonds and the cocoa powder into a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer.



Add the almonds, and cook for three minutes, constantly stirring.


Pour on the prepared baking sheet, and spread them out into a single layer–this takes a little effort, ’cause they are very sticky at this point!


Bake in the oven (middle rack) until the syrup around the almonds turns a darker brown, about 20 minutes.  Keep your eye on these, because nuts burn fast in the oven and there’s no way to turn back once you’ve gone too far!  When finished, remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.  Meanwhile, place the cocoa powder into a resealable bag.  When the almonds are cool, break them apart and toss ‘em in the bag until they are dusted with cocoa.


They have a surprisingly complex flavor that melds perfectly with the cocoa powder.  When I was making the syrup, I was worried it was too salty and too spicy, but once you taste the toasted almonds with it–perfection.  These went pretty quickly.


And by “pretty quickly”, I mean that I made a double batch and still ate them in two days.


But it’s my birthday today (did you know?)!  So I’m allowed.


Good amount of salty and sweet.  A little messy for eating while writing patient notes for the day, but no one’s perfect.


Also good for a de-stressing snack.


I have a tendency to experience a ridiculous amount of anxiety whenever there’s a stressful experience or a misunderstanding between family or friends until a few days after it’s over.  Even if I know it’s a silly non-event, I just can’t stop ruminating on it over and over until I’ve wasted hours fraying my nerves.  Silly, and I’m trying to get better at releasing my anxiety and just know that things will work out if I try my best to do the right thing.

In GREAT news, Fritz found out today that he passed part II of his dental boards!  We are so done with board exams!  Praise the good Lord in heaven.

On the Henry/Emerson (Hennerson) front, a lot of this has been going on while Emerson’s not paying attention:

I’ll kill you, you impostor.  Then I will use your litterbox as my man cave and your water dish as my toy bath.

IMG_9007What?  Who, me?  I’m just an innocent gray striped cat!  See how fluffy I am?



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  1. Hannah

    Love the Hennerson conversation (Emry?). I also fully recognized myself as a secret birthday tester (for one year) and as an experiment it didn’t work out well, so I’m reformed. Bring on the birthday crown for all of the month of March. Liana and I will be celebrating together!

  2. Chris @ Shared Appetite

    Happy Birthday! The almonds looks really good! Salty + Sweet = I’m making these.

  3. Florence

    Happy birthday,have a nice year,full of good recipes and kitty conversation.

  4. Biz

    Those nuts look amazeballs!! Didn’t anyone tell you that calories don’t count on your birthday?!

    Happy Birthday!

  5. Nuts about food

    Ok, so you just really cracked me up with those last two pictures! I used to have a cat and when my roommate got a cat too that is exactly what happened… so familiar! Cats are hilarious.