ALMONDS AND ALMOND PASTE
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Most almond paste recipes call for blanched, untoasted almonds. But I like an intense flavor that only toasted, unblanched almonds produce. Should you prefer a milder version, blanch and skin the almonds first. This recipe is the food processor version. If you are using a hand grinder, grind the nuts and add confectioners’ sugar. Blend the rest of the ingredients into the nut-sugar mixture by hand.
1. Toast almonds in 350F degree pre-heated oven until slightly brown and scented, about 11 to 12 minutes. Process them with sugar and salt in a food processor until very fine. About 2 minutes.
2. Combine egg white and almond extract in a small bowl and add to the almond mixture through the feed tube while the machine is running. Continue processing another minute to reach a homogeneous paste.
This is a highly concentrated almond paste that goes a long way. For a turnover or similar pastry, for instance, you need only 2 T (1 oz or 30g) of this paste for each pastry. Since the paste is thick and sticky, for easier spreading you may add a few drops of hot water just before using it.
Makes 1 1/4 cups of paste. The shelf life, if refrigerated, is several months.
It was a common practice in the past to blanch almonds and many recipes still call for them. Blanching gives them a softer texture and milder flavor Today we prefer fuller flavor. If you enjoy the fully intense almond flavor, don’t blanch almonds, but roast them. Should you rather blanch, drop them in boiling water for 1 or 2 minutes. Test one to make sure the skin slips off easily before you drain and cool them under cold running water for a minute. Squeeze each kernel gently with fingers and it slips neatly out of the skin.