It's always more fun to DIY. We're here to show you how to make small batches of great foods at home. Today: With Linda Xiao from The Tart Tart's homemade almond paste, you can take your almond-based desserts and pastries to a whole new level.
Whenever I think of almond paste, I'm reminded of the marzipan mushrooms I made to top my yearly bûches de Noël for French class in high school. They were the perfect finishing touch, but I'd never actually eat them. Are you even supposed to eat marzipan?
More: Pick up some extra almonds for a batch of homemade almond milk.
Since then, I've sampled almond paste in plenty of other forms and I have come to love it. It even began to make an appearance in my baking — for a batch of amaretti cookies or an almond cake, for instance — but its price tag turned me away again and again.
When I realized how easy it was to make almond paste at home, visions of all the almond-laced pastries I could make swam through my head. Once you try homemade almond paste that isn't supplemented with ground apricot or peach kernels (like most commercial versions), you'll want to make cloud cookies, frangipane tarts, and linzer tortes, too.
Makes 1 pound
1 1/2 cups blanched almonds
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 egg white
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 pinch salt
1. Grind the almonds.
In a food processor, process the almonds until finely ground, about 1 minute, scraping down as needed. It's likely that they'll clump together because of the oils in the nuts. (Psst, if you're wondering if you can swap in almond flour or almond meal instead of blanched almonds: Yes, you can. Just substitute 295 grams of either one, which shakes out to about 3 1/2 cups for both.)
2. Add the rest of the ingredients and process again.
That's the confectioners' sugar, egg white, almond extract, and salt. Process the mixture for another minute or so until well combined. At this point, taste your almond paste and adjust the sugar, almond extract, and salt to your personal preference.
3. Form into a log and wrap.
Empty the contents onto a surface dusted with confectioner's sugar and form the clump into a log shape. Wrap the log in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about an hour, or until firm. At this point, the almond paste is ready to use. It can be stored in the refrigerator for about a week.
Photos by Linda Xiao
5 recipes that use almond paste
1. Bear Claws
The pastry kind, that is. Flaky, buttery, and filled with lemony almond paste, we would happily eat these for breakfast or dessert. They're best when still warm (but you knew that already).
3. Toasted Cashew-Marzipan Blondies
In a recipe like this, you can do a 1:1 swap of marzipan to homemade almond paste. You can also swap out the cashews for any nut you love — think almonds (yes, more of them!), pecans, or hazelnuts.
4. Apple-Almond Cake
Luisa Weiss, author of Classic German Baking, sourced this recipe "from everywhere" — friends, family, magazines, old cookbooks, websites, "and even from the back of a generic brand of almond paste sold at the grocery store."
5. Almond Paste Waffles
This waffle recipe convinced recipe developer Posie Brien of one thing: Almond paste makes baked goods better. Here, it adds a bonus sweetness and creamy nuttiness. Top with tons of maple syrup.
6. Rainbow Cookies Meet Crumb Cake
Two classics (Italian rainbow cookies and New York-style crumb cake) mashup in this holiday cookie. Recipe developer Rebecca Firkser notes, "if you're lucky, you can find the elusive rainbow-cookie/crumb-cake hybrids at a select few establishments, but why not make your own?" But also rainbow cookies purists should feel free to skip the crumb topping.
7. Chocolate-Almond Croissants
If almond croissants are an improvement on classic croissants, chocolate almond croissants are even double the fun. These croissants start out as a pretty classic pain au chocolat, but finish them off with almond cream. Serve them with a bowl of cafe au lait for extra enjoyment.
8. Peach Bostock
This peach bostock recipe from Jason Schreiber's cookbook Fruit Cake calls for the best peaches you can find. So if you can't get your hands on good fresh stone fruit when the craving strikes, try swapping in frozen and defrosted peaches, or sub in another fruit that happens to be in season.
9. Peach Frangipane Galette
This peachy galette recipe from contributor Alexandra Stafford actually makes enough for two batches of the dessert. If you don't need both tonight, stash the second dough and half the frangipane in the freezer. You never know when you'll need a galette, STAT.
10. Almond Scones
Grate frozen almond paste into a classic buttery scone dough for the most floral, nutty, eat-the-whole-tray scones you've ever tasted. PS: A big swoosh of cherry or citrus jam would only make these treats more tasty.
11. Molly Yeh's Dark Chocolate Marzipan Scone Loaf
This Genius Recipe from blogger, cookbook author, and Food Network host Molly Yeh actually calls for marzipan instead of almond paste — marzipan is a bit sweeter and more firm than almond paste, so you can turn almond paste into marzipan by beating in 3 cups powdered sugar and 2 egg whites for every pound of almond paste.