Q: What is and where do you find almond paste?
— Dolores Stachura,
A: At most grocery and specialty stores, almond paste is found in the baking aisle.
It’s sold in 8-ounce cans or packages for about $5. One common brand available in most stores is from Solo, sold in 8-ounce cartons. Because the packaging and cans are small, they are easily overlooked. Look for them near the canned fruit fillings for pies, also in the baking aisle. You can sometimes find almond paste sold in a tube.
If you couldn’t find it over the holidays, chances are stores were sold out. Almond paste is a popular ingredient in holiday cookie recipes, especially ethnic varieties.
Almond paste is a product that’s made with blanched ground almonds or almond meal and sugar. The texture of the paste is soft and smooth, but it’s sold in a solid, block or cylinder form. To use, most recipes call for the almond paste to be crumbled into pieces and mixed with other ingredients to make a pastry crust or filling. Almond paste is often used when making frangipane (see below), a type of almond filling used in many tart recipes.
Once it’s opened, you can keep it well wrapped in the refrigerator. For longer storage, wrap the leftover almond paste and store it in a freezer-quality plastic bag up to 1 year.
Many stores also sell Marzipan, which is similar to almond paste. The main difference between the two is the sweetness and amount of almonds that are ground to make the product. Almond paste has more ground almonds and less sugar (some sources say it’s equal amounts), while Marzipan is just the opposite with more sugar and less almonds. Marzipan can be molded into a variety of shapes and rolled out to cover cakes or cut into other shapes. It can also be tinted.
Almond paste is mainly used in recipes that will be baked. Texture-wise, almond paste is coarser than Marzipan.
To make frangipane or almond filling for a tart, here’s what to do: In a mixing bowl beat together at medium speed 8 ounces crumbled almond paste with 1/2 stick softened unsalted butter, 3 tablespoons sugar and almond extract. Beat until creamy and light in texture (similar to how you cream butter and sugar together for cake and cookie recipes), about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low and add in 2 room temperature eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Once eggs are mixed in, add in 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Use the filling to line a pre-baked 8- or 9-inch tart shell and bake until set.
Today’s recipe is from Bee Englehardt of Bloomfield Hills, Mich. The recipe, a coffee cake, was Englehardt’s submission in the 2013 Pillsbury Bake-Off. Englehardt’s recipe was chosen as a finalist in the Quick Rise and Shine Breakfast category.
Sweet Orange and Toasted Almond Coffee Cake
Makes: 8 servings
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Total time: 1 hour 15 minutes
For more intense almond flavor, use 1/2 cup of the almond paste. This recipe is from Bee Engelhart of Bloomfield Hills, who submitted the recipe for 2013 Pillsbury Bake-off in the Quick Rise and Shine Breakfast category.
1 can refrigerated orange flavored sweet rolls with icing
8 tsp. low-sugar sweet orange marmalade
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. sugar
1/4 to 1/2 cup almond paste, crumbled
3 Tbsp. cold butter, cubed
2 Tbsp. sliced almonds, toasted
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray 13-by-41/2-inch rectangular tart pan with removable bottom or 8- or 9-inch round cake pan with nonstick cooking spray. If using tart pan, place 15-by-10-inch-pan with sides on middle oven rack.
Separate dough into 8 rolls. Reserve icing. Press rolls in bottom of pan. Drop marmalade by teaspoonfuls evenly over dough.
In medium bowl, mix flour and sugar. With pastry blender (or pulling 2 table knives through mixture in opposite directions), cut in almond paste and butter until mixture looks like fine crumbs. Sprinkle evenly over dough.
Place tart pan in the oven on the pan with sides. Bake 25 to 35 minutes or until golden brown.
In small microwavable bowl, microwave icing on high 10 to 15 seconds; stir. Immediately drizzle over coffee cake; sprinkle with nuts. Cool 20 minutes.
From Bee Engelhart, Bloomfield Township.
290 calories (40 percent from fat), 13 g fat (4.5 g saturated fat), 39 g carbohydrates, 3 g protein, 390 mg sodium, 10 mg cholesterol, 0 g fiber.
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