Jordan almonds, the sugar coated wedding candy you’ve seen at wedding receptions forever, have been around for centuries. Also known as koufeta, confetti or dragees, the ancient Greeks and Romans marked important celebrations such as birth and marriages with honey-sweetened almonds.
With the introduction of sugarcane in the European kitchens of the 15th-century, almonds adopted the thin layer of sugar we are accustomed to today. Italians made their consumption even more popular when they started offering these confections in honor of engaged and newly married couples as a symbol of prosperity and five time-honored wishes: happiness, longevity, wealth, children, and health. This is the reason jordan almonds are still distributed as inexpensive wedding favors today in sets of 5.
To The Greeks the indivisibility of the number 5 also shows that newlyweds will be partners for life. The notion that sugar-coated almonds represent “the bitter and the sweet” in life is -by the way- untrue. Even in their earliest form, sugar-coated almonds were always considered a sweet and precious delicacy. Not a bitter one! The mistaken notion may have something to do with the inferior-tasting qualities that have permeated the American market in recent years.
To insure you are getting a good-quality and not bitter Jordan almond shop with the following guidelines in mind:
1. Look for varieties made with large, whole almonds (preferably of a variety called “Avola” that is grown in the Sicily region of Italy). Avoid varieties made with almond pieces only.
2. Opt for varieties with very thin sugar-coatings. You can check this by breaking sugar-coated almond in half and taking a look at the layer surrounding the almond. If the sugar-coating looks thicker than almond inside, don’t buy them! They will taste hard and will not give you the right balance of textures.
3. Avoid varieties containing excessive amounts of starch in the sugar-coating mixture. The heavy use of starch results in a pasty or chalk-like taste. Manufacturers of lesser-quality sugar-coated almonds rely on heavy doses to solidify the sugar mixture more quickly and cut down on production time and costs.
4. Look for brands imported from Italy or France. While American production of sugar-coated almonds is getting better, they are still not a match for the quality offered by their European counterparts. The preference for peeled almonds (known in the industry as “Avola pelata”) versus non-peeled almonds is generally a matter of taste and not necessarily an indication of quality. Peeled almonds will yield a sweeter-taste. If your preference is, instead, for a heartier and nuttier tasting confection, opt for sugar-coated almonds where the thin, dark skin on the exterior of the almond was left intact in the manufacturing process. Looking to break from tradition? Try one of these popular alternatives to white sugar-coated almonds: chocolate-filled drag’es, confetti made with toasted almonds, heart-shaped confetti called “amorini,” and sugar-coated almonds dipped in gold or silver foil.
Contributed by the Bomboniere Shop