Almond Paste

  • Serves: Makes approximately 1 pound = 1 1/2 cups
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Variations: Orange Almond Paste; Rose Almond Paste; Pistachio-Almond Paste

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Almond paste is actually a confection made from blanched almonds, sugar, and liquid sugar as corn syrup. It is similar to marzipan except it is less granular and contains less sugar. Use almond paste in marzipan, cookies, cakes, candies and pastries. Almond paste can also be purchased ready-made from the grocery store. If you make your own, you are making a PASTE, not almond flour. Almond paste variations: Orange Almond, Rose Almond and Pistachio-Almond Paste

2 cups whole almonds
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
A few drops of almond extract

Blanch the almonds:
NOTE: You can buy already blanched almonds. Make sure they are fresh.
1. Bring water to a boil in a large wide pan.
2. Put 2 cups whole almonds in the boiling water and let boil for approximately 30 seconds, then drain.

3. Run cold water over the almonds to cool them.
When they are cool, you should be able to slip the skins right off with your fingers.

4. When all of the almonds are skinned, put them in a baking pan, in one layer, and place in a warm oven, to dry out.
Do not toast the almonds, you just want to dry them.
If you have a pilot light in your oven, you can leave the pan in the oven overnight. The pilot light should be hot enough to dry the almonds overnight.

5. When the almonds are dry, place them in the bowl of a food processor, and pulse them until the almonds are texture is fine powder.
You may have to process in small batches.

Prepare the sugar syrup:
1. Combine the sugar, water, and corn syrup in a pan and cook, without stirring, until the temperature is 235 degrees F. Then stir in the almond extract.

1. With the food processor going, gradually pour in the syrup in a slow, steady stream. Process until a paste is formed.

2. Remove it from the work bowl, wrap the almond paste well in plastic wrap, and refrigerate it until needed.

SARAH SAYS: To make it soft and easy to work with, put it in a warm place, such as next to the stove while the oven is on,
or heat it in the top of a double boiler or a steamer set over simmering water. DO NOT OVERHEAT, otherwise it will get greasy.

Once made, store in a plastic bag placed in an airtight container for 1 month in the refrigerator. It can also be frozen for about 6 months. Thaw in refrigerator overnight and then warm to room temperature before using. (I like to use mine at slightly cooler than room temperature). Knead to soften, but don't let it get oily. If it does, press paper towels on its surface to absorb.

NOTE: If at any time the almond paste smells rancid, toss -- because it is made from nuts whose oils are perishable.

Orange Almond Paste
1 recipe almond paste
grated zest of 4 large oranges, or more to taste
2 teaspoons orange flower water, or to taste (or 1/2 teaspoon orange extract or to taste)
1 drop orange food coloring, or more
Knead the almond paste with the rest of the ingredients or mix them in the food processor. Make any other additions, such as more orange flower water or coloring, gradually and carefully. The flavors will deepen as the paste ripens

Rose Almond Paste
1 recipe almond paste
a few drops of beet juice or red food coloring
1 to 2 teaspoons rose water, or to taste (or 1/2 teaspoon cherry extract or to taste to make Cherry Paste)
Knead the almond paste with a few drops of beet juice or food coloring until it is as pink as you wish. Then work in rose water to taste.

Pistachio-Almond Paste:
DO NOT use pistachios if it will be part of a marzipan or other recipe that is being used in a hot, humid climate. Pistachios have a lot of oil in them and the heat just brings it out more.
In the Almond Paste Recipe, replace 1/2 cup of the almonds with 1/2 cup unsalted pistachio nuts.
Put the pistachios in a preheated 350 degree F oven for about 10 minutes to dry and loosen the skins; then remove the skins by rubbing them in a textured cloth towel. They should come right off.
Work the pistachio nuts with the almonds in the food processor.
If you wish to end up with a uniform pale green color, add either some concentrated spinach juice, a drop or 2 of green food coloring, or about a tablespoon of powdered Japanese green tea, Matcha.

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