Almond Paste With Variations
- 2 cups whole almonds, Mission almonds preferred see * Note
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
- almond extract
- Water as needed
* Note: Look for Mission almonds at the farmers market. They are a bit harder to peel, but they have a more intense almond flavor.
Cover almonds with boiling water and let stand at least 1 minute. Pull 1 out and see if skin slips off easily. If not, let stand another minute and try again. Slip off skins of all almonds.
Combine sugar, water and syrup in small saucepan over medium-high heat and cook without stirring until temperature reaches 235 degrees on candy thermometer, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in extract.
Grind almonds in food processor, adding 1 or 2 tablespoons water if needed to loosen mixture. When texture is fine and smooth, gradually pour in syrup with food processor running and process until paste is well blended. Remove. If you want to flavor or color paste, do so in processor.
When done, wrap almond paste well in plastic and refrigerate for at least a week for flavor to ripen. To make paste pliable and easy to work, bring to room temperature by setting in warm spot before using, 30 minutes.
This recipe yields about 1 pound.
Each tablespoon: 81 calories; 2 mg sodium; 0 cholesterol; 5 grams fat; 9 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams protein; 0.21 gram fiber.
Rose Almond Paste: Knead or process 1/2 recipe Almond Paste with 1 or 2 drops red food coloring and 2 teaspoons rose water until well blended.
Oranges Almond Paste: Knead or process 1/2 recipe Almond Paste with grated zest of 1 orange or tangerine, 1 drop orange food coloring and 2 teaspoons orange flower water or 1 tablespoon orange liqueur until well blended. (Use food color sparingly by adding with a toothpick dipped into food coloring.)
USE THE ALMOND PASTES IN:
Dates With Orange Almond Paste: Allow about 2 teaspoons almond paste per date. Slit dates lengthwise, carefully open them and remove seed. Roll piece of almond paste in your hand to make lozenge shape about same length as date. Slip paste into date and gently close flesh around paste, without covering completely. Finish with any or all of the following garnishes: rolling in superfine sugar, setting piece of candied citrus peel on top of almond paste or embedding piece into it, adding lightly toasted almond or walnut to top, then dusting in superfine sugar, or garnishing with fresh or candied orange blossoms.
Black Sphinx Or Medjool Dates With Rose Almond Paste: Allow 2 to 3 teaspoons almond paste for these large, luscious dates. Slit dates in two lengthwise and remove seeds. Roll almond paste into lozenge shape and place in date. Gently press sides of dates against paste to secure them, but don't completely cover paste. Finish with any or all of the following garnishes: Embed whole, peeled green pistachio in almond paste, roll in superfine sugar, brush additional rose water over paste to emphasize flavor, garnish with chopped pistachio nuts and candied rose petals, garnish with pomegranate seed.
Orange-Almond Candies: These resemble miniature oranges. If you have candied angelica, you can use it, instead of mint, for the "leaves." If you have homemade candied citrus peels, use them rather than commercially prepared orange peels. Grapefruit or tangerine can be used in place of orange. Knead 1 cup Orange Almond Paste with 2 to 4 tablespoons candied orange or other citrus peel until evenly blended. Then, working 1 tablespoon at a time, roll paste into balls. Flatten balls just slightly so that they'll stand. Roll balls in superfine sugar, then dimple all over with toothpick. Add two small mint leaves to top of each "orange," then set in paper cases.