Homemade Almond Paste (never buy it again!)

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I made this for the Great Thanksgiving Dessert Buffet Dessert #3, Apple Almond Turnover because I didn’t have any almond paste or a convenient way to get some. But I *did* have a huge bag of Trader Joe’s raw almonds in the freezer. I assumed that almond paste would be really hard to make, but once I investigated it, I learned that it would actually  be faster to make it at home than to get in the car, battle the Boston traffic, and fight for a parking space both to the store and back.

Now that I’ve made it, I’m not sure I’d ever buy it again, particularly since I always keep raw almonds on hand. It is exponentially better than the store bought ones that I’ve bought. Maybe in Europe the store-bought ones are better, but here…homemade it is.

The part part that concerned me most about the recipe was blanching the almonds, more specifically peeling the blanched almonds.  I pictured having to tediously peel each almond much like a too-fresh hard-boiled egg (ref. Grams’s Deviled Eggs). But they are actually incredibly easy – squeeze the end and they pop right out! The only thing you have to be careful of is that they go flying when you pop them out (kind of like the snails Julia Roberts tries to eat in Pretty Woman).

Blanched almonds (Technique courtesy of Tori Avey’s blog which is really cool.)

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups + 1.5 Tblsp raw almonds 
  • Water

Directions

  1. Put 1.5 cups + 1.5 Tblsp raw almonds….

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into a pot of boiling water.

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for exactly one minute, but no more because they will get too soft.

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    1. Drain them in a colander and rinse in cold water to cool them.
    2. Dry the almonds.then gently squeeze the skin to loosen them. The almonds will pop right out, and rather aggressively, so keep your hand around them so you can catch them. But they will come out with just a minimal amount of effort.

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And voila! Blanched almonds.

 

To make the Almond Paste: (Adapted from Cinnamon Spice and Everything Nice Blog)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup plus 3 tablespoons (250 grams) sugar
  • 1/4 cup (75 grams) honey
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons (100 grams) water
  • 3 cups plus 3 tablespoons (500 grams) blanched, whole, almonds
  • Up to 1/3 cup (about 50 grams) Kirsch or simple syrup, optional – Actually I don’t consider this optional. The liquor flavor imparts a MUCH better background note to the almond past than almond extract, which is what most recipes call for. I didn’t even have kirsch, so I used white rum, and it was perfect. I think the almond extract makes it taste fake. The liquor enhances the natural flavor of the almonds.
  • Scant 1/4 cup (50 grams) butter, optional

 

Directions

  1. Add the sugar, honey and water to a medium saucepan set over medium-high and bring to a boil, stirring often.
  2. Grind the almonds in a large food processor until coarsely chopped.

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  1. Pour the boiling water over the almonds and continue blending until smooth up to 10 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl if needed.

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It will be hard to get the same consistency as store bought almond paste and that’s ok.

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  1. If the mixture is so thick that the food processor is straining, you can add a little more hot water, kirsch or simple syrup.

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  1. Wrap the almond paste in plastic wrap or drop it into a tupperware container and allow it to cool or store in refrigerator 2 – 3 weeks or freeze up to 3 months.

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  1. When you are ready to use the almond paste knead in the butter – it will make it smooth and not so sticky. I skipped this step since I was going to use it right away.
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