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How to Make Almond Paste

Almond paste is an absolutely ubiquitous, don’t-you-dare-not-have-it pantry staple in our house around Christmas time.

Between the Dutch, Swedish, and German heritages that make up our family, almond paste shows up in a whoooooole lot of traditional Christmas recipes.

The problem is – and yes, you’ve heard this before – it uses refined sugar. A lot of it. So, what to do when you’re planning on giving in to the aforementioned love of almond paste and eating copious amounts of it?

You find a method that allows you to use a sugar that still has at least some of its minerals intact.

Yes, you’re still eating sugar, and yes, that definitely means some modicum of moderation should be called for, but you will be reducing the absolute havoc that is wreaked upon a body by ingesting highly refined sugar.

But all preaching aside, this method of making almond paste is simple and stunning. In my estimation, it makes a far superior paste to the egg-and-powdered-sugar version that I’ve made in the past. This tastes like it came straight off the confectioner’s worktable in the old-world and it’s just the right texture to knead and shape as desired.

And one note about using both sugar and honey – I’ve tried the recipe using various amounts of each, including JUST sugar or JUST honey, but definitely the best texture and best moisture is found with the ratio used here.

 

How to Make Almond Paste

I’m giving the amounts in weights merely because I find I have more consistently good results when I use my scale rather than my measuring cup. However, it’s certainly easier to use a volume measure, so I’ve included estimates for those as well.

Makes approximately 4 cups / 2 pounds

500 g (~3 1/4 cups) whole, blanched almonds
250 g (~1 1/8 cup) unrefined cane sugar
75 g (~1/4 cup) honey
100 g (~7 tablespoons) water
1 tablespoon almond extract OR Kirsch (for a cherry flavor) – optional

If your almonds aren’t pre-blanched, blanch them (see directions below).

Place the almonds in a food processor and grind until they are the size of very coarsely ground coffee. Let sit until the sugar mixture is ready.

Place the sugar, honey, and water in a medium saucepan and bring to a full, rolling boil over medium-high heat. While it’s still boiling, pour the syrup over the almonds, then process until smooth, which usually takes 5-10 minutes. At some point in the first few minutes of grinding, add the almond extract through the feed tube so that it gets thoroughly worked into the dough.

Remove the almond paste from the processor and wrap it tightly in plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator until fully chilled, then use as desired.

 

How to Blanch Almonds

Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil, then add any amount of raw almonds.

Let the almonds simmer for about 60 seconds, then drain them and run them under cold tap water to stop the cooking process and completely cool them.

Pour them out onto towels and pat them dry.

At this point, you should notice the skins beginning to shrivel, so at that point, squeeze and rub each almond gently until the skins begin to peel off.

Use the blanched almonds immediately or store them in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 6 months.

 

 This post has been shared at The Mommy Club.
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Comments

    • Kresha says

      Well, no, but…. ;-)

      The real answer should be “no,” as marzipan has as higher sugar content than almond paste and is generally more pliable, which you can achieve by increasing the amount of sugar in the syrup, kneading in a bit of butter, and/or by adding a raw egg white in the blending stage. In Germany, there are even laws governing that marzipan can only be called “marzipan” if it is a strict ratio of two parts sugar to one part almonds (!), with rose water as the only legal additive (as opposed to the almond extract I’ve called for here, since I love a strong almond flavor).

      The reason I add the caveat of “yes,” however, is that for most home cooks, there’s not much distinguishable difference. In the professional food world, there are many different definitions of what can be considered marzipan – there’s British marzipan, French marzipan, German marzipan, Danish marzipan, and who knows how many other variations, but at home, it just depends on what you want to do with it. Most of the time, almond paste is used as an ingredient inside various baked goods, whereas marzipan is used as decoration on the outside, either rolled out like fondant or shaped and painted like little sculptures (which I have no patience for, personally – heh).

      If you want to use this recipe as marzipan, I would add 150 g of sugar and 25 g of honey without increasing the amount of water. Then, grind it absolutely as fine and smooth as possible without burning out your food processor.

      I imagine Finns use a fair bit of almond paste, since Sweden, Norway, and Denmark all use copious amounts. Is there a consensus there about how almond paste is used?

      • says

        Wow, you really know a lot about this! Thank you for the very thorough explanation. Finnish food is quite different from the food of the neighboring Scandinavian countries. I see marzipan at the grocery store (or almond paste – i’ll have to check), but I haven’t noticed it used in any baked goods. I’ll have to look up some recipes, though. Thanks again!

  1. Celeste says

    I love Almond Paste! Since I am on a restricted diet, can I use Stevia instead of sugar? What about coconut sugar? Thank you!

    • Kresha says

      Celeste,

      Thanks for a great question! I would think coconut sugar would work just fine, but I imagine the stevia would give a bitter edge to it when using that large a quantity. Also, simple syrups made with anything other than a granulated sugar like cane sugar or coconut sugar don’t tend to turn out very well….

      Good luck!

  2. Dorothy says

    Thank you so much for this recipe! Do you know about how many ounces of paste it makes in the end? I use quite a bit making Italian desserts at Christmas, so nice to find a healthier version!

  3. Penny says

    Hi. I live in a small city in China, and I don’t think I can find unrefined cane sugar (and almond extract, but that’s for flavor, yes?). Can we use any kind of sugar, or is cane sugar a must? Also, do you think I could I use (natural) maple syrup as a honey substitute?

    Thanks.

    • Kresha says

      Yes, you can absolutely use regular sugar or whatever crystalline-structured sugar you can find. Darker sugars may change the flavor slightly, but not in an undesirable way, per se. The almond extract is optional just to give it a more potent almond flavor.

      I haven’t tried the maple syrup, but my gut instinct is that it will make the mixture a bit too soft. However, like I said, I haven’t tried it, so it might work beautifully (as well as give it a lovely maple flavor – yum!).

  4. C says

    Hello,

    Thank you for sharing this. I wondered how long the marzipan lasts for and can it be left at room temp

    Thank you.

    • Kresha Faber says

      Yes, this can be left at room temperature, covered, for about 3-4 days. (I say “covered” merely because sweet things tend to attract bugs…..)

      I’m not sure how long it lasts in the refrigerator, however. I usually use mine up within two weeks, but I would imagine it would keep just fine for about 3 months in the refrigerator and about 12 months in the freezer if it’s wrapped tightly in plastic wrap or other airtight seal.

  5. LC says

    What would the 3 1/2 Cups of blanched almond measure in ground almonds? I’m buying my almonds already ground up.

    • Kresha Faber says

      Well, almond flour varies in fineness WILDLY from brand to brand, and thus, the volume changes too. The 500 grams of whole almonds called for here can render anywhere from 3 1/2 cups to 5 cups of ground almonds, depending on how finely your almond flour/ground almonds are ground.

      To measure by volume, I would recommend starting with 3 1/2 cups of almond meal, then after adding the honey syrup and processing for a few minutes, if the mixture is still quite sticky and not pulling itself off the walls of the food processor, then adding more almond meal 2-3 tablespoons at a time until the mixture is still soft but not sticky.

      I hope that helps!

    • Kresha Faber says

      Well, you could use almonds that still have their skins if you really want, but both the flavor and texture will be different. Not necessarily a “bad” different, just different. The skins will impart a slightly more bitter and toasted flavor and will fleck the dough with dark specks. The almond flavor, however, may be deeper due to the flavinoids and slight bitter edge of the skin.

      Basically, no, you don’t HAVE to use blanched almonds, but the final flavor and texture will be smoother, sweeter, and more traditional if you do.

      Does that help?

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