(Note: you can make these without a stand mixer by stirring by hand, then kneading until the dough comes together,but I used a stand mixer.)
Fit a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Place hot water, yeast, and brown sugar in the bottom of your stand mixer bowl. Let sit until the yeast is fluffy, about 5 minutes.
Add the salt and 2 tablespoons of melted butter to the yeast mixture. Stir with the paddle attachment. Add flour and stir until the dough is semi-combined and starts to stick to the paddle. Switch out the paddle attachment for the dough hook. Continue mixing, raising the speed to medium-high, until the dough forms a ball and the sides of the bowl are mostly clean.
The dough should be slightly tacky but not wet. If it’s too wet, add more flour, 1 tablespoon at a time until you can touch the dough with just a bit of stickiness (your hands should stay mostly clean but not totally).
Transfer the ball of dough to a bowl that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit until doubled in size, about 1-2 hours.
Bring a large pot of water to boil (about 8-10 cups of water). Make sure there is at least 4-5 inches at the top of the pan that has no water (so there is room to add the baking soda in step 11.) Preheat oven to 425°.
Once the dough has risen, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Cut the dough into 12 pieces.
Roll each piece into a rope that is 12 inches long. Let them sit for 5 minutes.
Form each pretzel: roll rope until it is double in size (about 24 inches). Form it into a “U” shape. Cross the top ends of the “U” over each other. Twist once then fold over into a pretzel shape. Press the ends onto the bottom of the pretzel to seal. Repeat with remaining dough.
Line 2 cookie sheets with silpat baking mats or parchment paper.
Once the water is boiling, add baking soda to the water. Boil each pretzel for about 45 seconds to 1 minute, then transfer with a slotted spoon to prepared baking sheets. Continue until all the pretzels are boiled.
Place almonds and granulated sugar in a food processor and pulse until the almonds are small pieces.
Brush each pretzel with melted butter (from the 2 tablespoons remaining). Sprinkle with the almond and sugar mixture. Try not to get too much on your pan, it will brown in the oven. (This won’t hurt the pretzels, but it will smell.)
Bake pretzels for about 8-14 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool before eating.