Also known as sugared almonds or "dragees," Jordan almonds are a favorite sweet for bomboniere (favors) at weddings around the world. They may be put into glasses or bowls, into boxes or bundled and wrapped in tulle and placed at each table setting for your guests to enjoy during the wedding reception.
The first written record of the use of Jordan almonds was during the 1350s in Boccaccio's "Decameron," according to jordanalmonds.com, and their use in weddings and other important banquets became increasingly widespread after that time. Factories for their production emerged between the late 1700s and early 1800s.
Jordan almonds were made with honey prior to the Renaissance starting in 1400. Today, the coating is made with sugar. The most expensive of these are coated only in sugar and are called "confetti." Others have a starch and sugar coating, and the higher the quality of these, the less starch is used. Superfine Jordan almonds have less starch and may also be known as "premium," because they have the best quality.
The bittersweet taste is significant. Life, signified by the bitter almond, is covered by a sweet coating to offset this bitterness with the sweetness of marriage. They should only be distributed in odd numbers at a wedding because this represents the couple's indivisible bond and shared life.
Italians call Jordan almonds "confetti," while Greeks call them "koufeta." In Greek tradition, if a female guest places the packet of almonds under her pillow, she will dream about the man she will marry. Jordan almonds are also popular in the Middle East, where they are considered an aphrodisiac.
The most common number of Jordan almonds given to each guest is five. This is because the number 5 is an odd number and each almond stands for something that everyone wishes for the couple: happiness, health, fertility, longevity and wealth.