What's the Deal with Marcona Almonds?

Marcona almonds have been enjoying a steady rise in popularity over the past several years. They receive prominent displays at gourmet markets, get name-dropped on fancy restaurant menus, and are frequently lauded as the best almonds ever by those in the know. Just what makes these almonds so special?Marcona almonds are a special product of Spain, akin to San Marzano tomatoes from Italy or caviar from Russia. They've been imported to the US for years, but have only recently gained a wider audience thanks to a growing interest in Spanish cuisine among chefs, food writers, and other foodies.

These almonds are more rounded and plump than the California varieties we're used to. They also seem to have a softer and somewhat "wet" texture, similar to macadamia nuts. The marcona almonds we've tried have a sweeter, more delicate taste closer to the flavor we associate with almond extract.

It's easier to find these almonds than it used to be. You can definitely get them at Whole Foods and any good gourmet shop. You can usually find them raw or toasted with olive oil and salt. Trader Joe's also carries a variety that has toasted with rosemary!

If you only have enough marcona almonds for a sampling, we recommend eating them on their own or as part of a cheese plate with Spanish cheeses. If you have some leftover, marcona almonds make a fantastic addition to salads or just about any dessert or baked good.

Are you a fan of these almonds?

Related: Recipe: DIY Almond Divinity

(Image: Flickr member SauceSupreme licensed under Creative Commons)

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