Recipes for Shabbat
By Eileen Goltz
Kosher cooks have always used nuts, in one form or another, in their cooking. Almonds and more specifically almond paste and marzipan have found their way into dishes that our ancestors created when they were living in such diverse locations as Poland, Italy, France and Spain.
Almond Paste is a finely ground mixture of almonds and sugar. Marzipan is a mixture of almond paste and sugar and sometimes egg whites. Almond paste is a subtle nut flavored ingredient used in frostings, fillings, cakes, cookies, breads, tortes, and all kinds of other delicacies. Marzipan is a stiffer, sweeter ingredient that is often used as a rolled frosting, and, after being tinted with food coloring, molded into a variety of shapes such as fruits, animals and flowers. The two ingredients are not interchangeable.
There are many stories about the origin of almond paste and marzipan.
There was a great drought in the area of the world we now call Italy and almonds were the only substantial crop to survive. Consequently, people learned many new ways to use and eat almonds. They made almond bread, almond pie, almond soup and almond pastries. People liked the taste of the almonds so much that the practice of using them in all types of recipes flourished even after the famine past. Travelers carried the almond paste recipe from one country to another and a taste treat was born.
Both almond paste and marzipan are available at
most grocery stores.
They keep well if stored properly. If you don't
plan on using all of it right away you can seal it and freeze it for up to 3
months. 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 to dry to work with, you can microwave it for
several seconds in the microwave.
Warm almond paste in microwave (about 30 seconds on
low power) until pliable. Using a food processor or electric mixer, cream
almond paste and sugar. Add egg white and salt. Mix well. Oil your hands
lightly before handling mixture (the mixture is sticky, so hands may need to
be re-oiled while working). Divide into 12 equal-size balls. Roll between
palms into 21Ž2- to 3-inch-long cylinders. Roll these in almond slices until
coated. Place on slightly greased aluminum foil or other nonstick baking
surface on a baking sheet. Bend cylinders into crescent shapes. Refrigerate
10 to 15 minutes until crescents are cold. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 15
to 18 minutes. Watch carefully during the last few minutes. Crescents should
be a very light golden color. Do not over bake. Let sit for a minute and
loosen from baking surface using a spatula. Cool completely before handling.
If desired, dust with powdered sugar. Almond crescents will keep for a week
in an airtight container, longer refrigerated. They may also be frozen.
Thaw puff pastry sheets according to box instructions.
Preheat oven to 375.
Preheat oven to 350. Line cookie sheets with parchment
paper or greased aluminum foil. Melt the butter in a pan or microwave. Grate
the almond paste into a medium bowl using the large hole side of a box
grater or food processor. In the bowl of and electric mixer combine the
melted butter/margarine and almond paste. Mix until combined into a
paste-like consistency. Stir in the oats, brown sugar and salt. Mix until
well combined. Add the egg and beat until well mixed. Drop by rounded
teaspoons onto cookie sheets, leaving 3" between cookies. Bake for 10
minutes or until golden with darker edges, but not browned. Carefully slide
foil or parchment paper from cookie sheets onto wire racks. Cool completely
before removing the cookies from foil or paper liner. Store in airtight
containers between sheets of wax paper. Makes 3 to 4 dozen cookies
Preheat oven to 375 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 into the flour. Mix well until all pieces
of the paste are coated with flour (separating any pieces of Almond Paste
that may have stuck together). Finely grate the lemon peel into the flour
and mix well. In a medium bowl beat the butter, yogurt and egg until well
mixed. Make a well in the center of the flour and pour in the liquid
ingredients. Beat quickly, just until ingredients are combined. Scoop batter
into muffin tin (an ice cream scoop works perfectly for this step) Bake for
18 to 20 minutes or until lightly golden on top.
Preheat oven to 375. Have a baking sheet ready. Roll
out pastry on lightly floured surface with floured rolling pin to 12 x 9-in
rectangle. Cut in half lengthwise into 2 equal strips. Transfer 1 strip to
Cream butter and sugar together. Add egg and almond
extract. Mix well. Beat in flour and salt. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 350. In a small bowl microwave almond paste for 15 - 20
seconds. Add the sugar and mix well. Add the egg and mix it well. Divide
dough into 4 pieces. Divide each of those pieces into 12 pieces. Roll into a
ball and place 1 ball in each of 48 ungreased miniature muffin cups. Press
in bottom and up sides of each cup.
© Eileen Goltz 2003