Okay, to be honest, it never occurred to me to even wonder if I could make my own almond paste. I have always just bought the seven-pound cans of almond paste and carefully divided it into 1 pound lumps. Almond paste lasts a long time in the fridge and even longer in the freezer, so I’ve never actually had an Almond Paste Emergency. Until this year.
For those of you who are wondering what almond paste is, let me explain. Almond paste is the critical ingredient in a much-loved Dutch pastry called banket. Almond paste differs from marzipan in that almond paste has less sugar and tends to be stiffer in texture. Sometimes you can buy almond paste in the baking aisle of your local grocery store, but it is prohibitively expensive to buy that way. For years, my grandma bought me 7-pound cans from the California Almond Growers Assoc. in central California. Sadly, Grandma is no longer here and no longer buys me almond paste.
Almond paste isn’t hard to find if you live in western Michigan or the Central Valley of California, but anywhere else? Forget it. Dutch women may think they control the banket cartel, but they’re in trouble if they don’t have a reliable source of almond paste.
After asking, “Where can I buy almond paste…cheap?” for a long time, I realized that I needed to ask a different question. I need to ask, “How can I MAKE almond paste….cheap?” So I asked that question.
Imagine my delight when I stumbled upon this recipe put out by the California Almond Board itself. It’s easy and, to my great surprise, is just like commercial almond paste!
- 1 1/2 cups (8 oz.) whole blanched almonds*
- 1 1/2 cups (5oz.) sifted powdered sugar
- 1 egg white
- 1 tsp. almond extract
- 1/8 tsp. salt
Grind whole blanched almonds in a food processor. Add powdered sugar, egg white, almond extract and salt; work to a stiff paste. Store in refrigerator or freezer tightly wrapped in saran or disposable plastic bag.
Makes 1 1/3 cups (13 oz.) almond paste.
* Note on blanched almonds: it’s very important that the almonds you use in this recipe are blanched. You don’t want the brown skins in the almond paste. Unfortunately, the cheapest way to buy almonds is at Sams Club or Costco and those bags are unblanched. To blanch almonds yourself is easy. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Put the almond into the boiling water and let them boil for 2 or 3 minutes. Then strain the boiling water off the almond and dump them into a bowl of cold water. In a couple of minutes, you’ll be able to slide the skins right off the almonds. Let the blanched almonds dry a little before you make almond paste with them.
Another great recipe that calls for almond paste is Auntie Shirl’s Almond Bars. These almond bars have all the buttery almond sweetness of banket and are considerably less work. I have yet to meet someone who doesn’t just love these bars.