~ "By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; Through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures." ~ "Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing" ~ "But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy." ~ "Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths."~

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Homemade Almond Paste... and a Coconut Paste Filling.

Homemade Almond Paste... and a Coconut Paste Filling. Almond paste can be easily found in stores, and the quality is often determined by how smooth  the paste is. There are lots of recipe for making almond paste at home. Some recipes involve making a sugar syrup, adding the syrup to the almonds and then processing it until super smooth... no egg whites involved. Some recipes also add a bit of butter for smoothness and flavor. Other recipes just have you process the almonds and sugar to a smooth consistency and then adding egg whites to combine. I chose to do the latter... simply for its ease of preparation(and because I had some whites to be used up). But whatever recipe you use, it is important that you process the almond paste until you get it as smooth as possible.

The really nice part about making your own almond paste at home is that you can flavor it as you like. Sure, I know an almond paste should have that classic "amaretto" flavor,  but for those who don't like the almond flavor, well, there's an available loophole:)... you can easily just substitute the almond extract with a vanilla extract. And this way, you will be able to use the almond paste in a variety of recipes. Actually you can make a variety of different flavored pastes... orange almond, rose almond, pistachio almond. are just a few. Oh, and it's also cheaper to make the paste at home... plus, it hardly takes any time to whip up a batch. Stores for at least a week in the fridge, and freezes well. 

And because I promised the almond paste recipe when I made the Amadeus cookies , I'm finally posting the recipe. Making the homemade almond paste actually works quite well in conjunction with the Amadeus cookies. Because the cookies require 2 egg yolks only, the whites can then be used to make the almond paste. You can make a double batch of the almond paste, or you can choose to make another nut paste of choice. Since I had some unsweetened shredded coconut available, I chose to make a coconut paste with the extra egg white. Incidentally, I could easily see how the pastes can be formed into balls, or squares and then dipped in chocolate. Yum! Hope you enjoy...      

Note: To make the coconut paste pictured above, substitute the almonds with unsweetened finely shredded coconut(same amount), and add vanilla instead of almond extract...or if you like, a coconut/rum extract.

Tip: If you like to make different flavors: 
For orange-almond paste: add some orange zest( about 1 TBS, or to taste) with a drop or 2 of orange oil or 2 tsps orange flower water. 
For rose-almond: 1-2 tsps rose water, or to taste... and beet juice for color.
For pistachio-almond paste: substitute 1/2 cp of the almonds for 1/2 cup skinless, unsalted pistachios... and add some spinach powder/juice, or matcha( Japanese gree tea) for a greener color.   

You will need: adapted from Taste of Home

1 1/2 cups blanched  slivered almonds
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 egg white
1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract( if you don't care for the almond flavor, opt to add a vanilla extract.)
1/4 teaspoon salt

1. Place almonds in a food processor; cover and process until smooth. Add the confectioners' sugar, egg white, extract and salt; cover and process until smooth. 
Note: The paste will be a bit soft in the beginning, but as it sits it will firm up a bit more. See top photo(just mixed) , and second photo( as it sat out a bit).  
2. Divide almond paste into portions and wrap well and place in a sealed container. Refrigerate for up to 1 month.... or freeze for up to 3 months.

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