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Posted on Sun. Aug. 31, 2014 - 12:01 am EDT

Almond paste useful in baking

Cooks have always used nuts, in one form or another, in their cooking. Sweet and savory dishes always seem to have an extra crunchy goodness when nuts are included.

I love pecans and walnuts, but almonds, and more specifically almond paste and marzipan, have found their way into more and more dishes in my kitchen these days.

Almond paste and marzipan are two different foods. Almond paste is a finely ground mixture of almonds and sugar. Marzipan is a mixture of almond paste and sugar and egg whites. Almond paste is used in frostings, fillings, cakes, cookies, breads and tortes. Marzipan is a thicker, stiffer ingredient that is sometimes used as a rolled frosting or molded into a variety of whimsical shapes like fruits, animals and flowers. Be warned, you should not substitute one for the other. 

You can make your own almond paste and marzipan, but the products available in the grocery stores are usually more cost and time efficient if you only need to use a little bit. Almond paste should be firm, but malleable. If it becomes too dry to work with, you can cook it for several seconds in the microwave.

Almond, Apple and Raisin Roll

1 box (17 ounces) frozen puff pastry

1 cup golden raisins 

3 tablespoons rum

4 tablespoons of boiling water 

1 tube (7 ounces) almond paste 

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Pinch of salt

4 granny smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced

1 egg, beaten

2 tablespoons butter or margarine, divided

Coarse sugar

Thaw puff pastry sheets according to box instructions. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 

Place raisins in small sauce pan and add the rum and water. Bring the mixture to a boil, cover and then remove from heat. Cool for 15 to 20 minutes. Crumble the almond paste into large bowl. Add the sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon and salt. Mix with fingers until well combined and crumbly. Add the sliced apples. 

Drain the raisins and then add them to the apple mixture. Mix well. Unfold one pastry sheet onto a lightly floured surface. Dust the top of the dough with flour and roll into a 15-inch-by-12-inch rectangle. Work quickly to keep dough cool. With the short side of the dough facing you, brush 1/2 inch of edges with some beaten egg. Spoon half of apple mixture on bottom half of rectangle.

Dot the apple mixture with 1 tablespoon of butter (cut it into small pieces). Starting on short side, roll up jelly roll style. Place the roll seam side down on lined baking sheet. Pinch the ends together and fold them under. Repeat with the second sheet of dough. Brush the top and sides with the beaten egg. Sprinkle the top with coarse sugar.

Cut small slits every 2 inches along the top as vents for the steam. Do not cut all the way through. Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until golden. Cool on the sheet for 15 to 20 minutes before moving to a cooling rack. Makes 16 pieces.

Oatmeal Almond Crispies

1 stick butter or margarine

1 tube (7 ounces) almond paste

1 cup quick cook oatmeal (if you use rolled oats they need to be finely chopped, but not ground to a powder, in a food processor first) 

3/4 cup brown sugar, packed

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 large egg 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper or greased aluminum foil. Melt the butter in a pan or microwave. In the bowl of a food processor process the almond paste until crumbly. In the bowl of an electric mixer combine the melted butter/margarine and almond paste. Mix until combined. Stir in the oats, brown sugar and salt. Mix until well combined. Add the egg and mix to combine.

Drop by rounded teaspoons onto cookie sheets, leaving 3 inches between cookies. Bake for 10 minutes or until golden with the edges being darker, but not browned. With the cookies still on the sheet carefully slide the foil or parchment paper from cookie sheets onto wire racks. Cool completely before removing the cookies. Makes 3 to 4 dozen cookies. 

– Submitted by

Suzie Cardonze of Chicago

Almond Lemon Muffins

These muffins taste best when you make them by hand instead of in a mixer. 

2 cups flour 

1/2 cup sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 tube (7 ounces) almond paste 

Zest of 1 large lemon

4 tablespoons butter, melted

1 cup vanilla yogurt

1 large egg 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and grease a 12-count muffin pan. Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a large bowl. Using the large-hole side of a box grater or a food processor, grate the almond paste and then mix it and the lemon zest into the flour. Mix well. In a bowl combine the butter, yogurt and egg and mix until combined. Make a well in the center of the flour and pour in the liquid ingredients. Beat quickly, just until ingredients are combined. Scoop the batter into muffin tin.

Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until lightly golden on top. Cool for 15 minutes then remove from muffin pan to completely cool. Makes 12.

– Modified from

Epicurious.com 

Slice of Life is a food column that offers recipes, cooking advice and information on new food products. It appears Sundays. If you have a question about cooking or a food item, contact Eileen Goltz at eztlog@gmail.com or write The Journal Gazette, 600 W. Main St., Fort Wayne, IN 46802.


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