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Cocoa Chipotle Almonds

When I was little and I wanted a snack my Mom would tell me to eat a handful of almonds.  "Almonds are the king of nuts."  she would always say.  I would always wonder why they weren't the queen of nuts, and not want to eat them thinking the raw almonds were rather bland.  Now that I am an adult I appriciate almonds for their flavor, as well as their nutritional benefits.  Mom was right, they do make a great snack and keep the hunger monster at bay.  I was feeling like I needed some more good high protein snacking options as of lately, so what better then some sort of jazzed up almond?  The Mexican hot cocoa I often make, gave me the idea to put the same flavors onto an almond.  So I whisked together some cocoa, maple sugar, chipotle powder, cinnamon and sea salt and adhered it to the almonds with some agave nectar.  I then baked the almonds to toast them, coated them in more of the mixture, and as soon as they were just cool enough, I dove in!  Forget just having a snack I had a few...what can I say, toasted nuts right out of the oven are addictive!

Cocoa Chipotle Almonds

Makes 4 cups

4 cups whole raw almonds

2 Tbsp agave nectar
3 Tbsp maple sugar
2 Tbsp cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp  plus 1/8 ground chipotle powder
1 1/2 tsp sea salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees, line a sheet pan with foil and spray with non-stick spray.  In a large bowl, toss almonds with agave nectar until well coated.  In a small bowl, whisk together sugar, cocoa powder, cinnamon, chipotle powder, and sea salt, then pour 2/3 of the mixture over almonds (reserving last 1/3) and toss well to coat.  Spread out on prepared baking sheet and roast in the oven for 7-10 minutes until almonds are fragrant and toasted.  Toss with remaining cocoa mixture, let cool slightly, then dive in!