Almonds are the most commonly used nuts in Morocco and where would Moroccan pastry be without them? The almonds, either whole or sliced or toasted or fried or ground with skin on, or blanched, are a staple in Moroccan dishes, as well as dessert pastes.
Almond and amlou paste are food pastes made from ground, dry almonds, and both versions are very popular in Morocco. Amlou Paste = أَمْلُو uses ground, dry almonds with skin on, all mixed with Argan oil and pure honey. Whereas, the almond paste, known in Moroccan language as "3a9dat Louz" = (عَقْدَةْ اللّوز), uses ground, dry, blanched almonds (skin off), and it is widely used as a filling in most moroccan pastries.
This is an other post, as with most of my mother's recipes, will bring back such good memories and will conjure up "oh-my" sweet childhood memories! Making homemade almond paste is something that I grew up on. My mother was an almond pastes fanatic, but she could not stand store-bought version. She actually used to make her own almond paste every Spring, and this is the time she always chose to make flats and flats of homemade almond and amlou pastes. I remember helping her making those lovely classic pastes, grinding gum arabic, kneading the amlou paste and laughing at silly family jokes. She would always let me put in the flavours, or add butter or honey to the mixture. I desperately wanted to help and be her indispensable cook apprentice and it was such a great time to spend with her. I am thankful for that to this day and I try to do similar things for my lovely boys too.
I also remember that special smells that filled the house as almond and amlou pastes approached or passed. I could definitely tell she put a lot of heart into every batch she made. Then she put the pastes in glass jars and used them when her time allowed it! The very best thing of this whole day of preparation and storing, is opening those store cupboards to get a new jar of amlou paste for our breakfast! Those amlou jars were something out of this world, I still remember that taste and nothing ever compares! I loved her special amlou paste as much as I miss her!
Amlou paste is actually used as a spread or tartinade for breakfast, whereas almond paste is stored to be used in filling pastries. It has such a delicate and wonderful taste when used in in Kâab Lghzal, called in France "Cornes de gazelle" and anglicised as "Gazelle's Ankles". The almond paste is also stored to be used in biscuits, Krachel, Mssaman, Briwat Louz, cakes, bread, stuffed dates (only the version without egg white), and other preparations.
My mothers' almond paste ratio is (1 part blanched ground almond : 1/2 part icing sugar), and make sure to use only pure icing sugar because the other type has cornflour in it. My mother used volume measures, in particular "soup bowl or tea glass", and her recipe calls for a large amount of almonds, but this time I used only 1 kg of whole almonds.
Definitively, it is much better to make our own homemade almond paste than buying the one of grocery store kind that comes in a tube, and which has probably been sitting on the grocery shelves for some time. The homemade almond paste has that sweet neutral taste, and its nutritional benefits are just a few to name. First, ours comes from 100% organic freshly ground almonds and it tastes really good! Second, it is much more flavourful, with whatever flavour you decide to add in. Third, we know exactly what's going in and we are sure that the ingredients in our home-made paste are free from those weird preservatives or any chemicals or artificial process enhancers etc.... Finally, it is less expensive, since we all know that almond paste is so expensive, while almonds themselves are not that high. So I think instead of wasting our time, asking where to buy a cheap quality almond paste, it is better to start making ours.
Marzipan, which also includes blanched ground almond and icing sugar should not be confused with this almond paste recipe. For those of you who are wondering what is the difference between the two is that almond paste has less sugar and for the Moroccan version, it is pliable with gum arabic, orange flower water and ground cinnamon and egg white (Except for almond paste used for stuffed dates, it is egg white free). Other versions use vanilla or almond extract or other flavours commonly added to almond paste.
Marzipan, on the other hand, is made with a higher ratio of sugar to ground almonds. In fact it contains more sugar than ground almond and is made of cooked finely ground almonds, mixed with sugar, and water. It is too sweet and firmer than almond paste but still remains pliable. Different flavours are combined to obtain the final intended flavour.
You can make special varieties with different flavours by replacing all or some of the almonds with peanuts, hazelnuts, walnuts, cashew, chestnut, pecan, pistachio, sesame seeds, pinenut or other types of nuts. Almond paste can be keep at room temperature for 2 weeks, or in the fridge for 1 month, or in the freezer for much longer.
By Mamatkamal, K. El Mary
-Whole almonds / Amandes entières
-Powdered sugar or icing sugar or confectioners' sugar / Sucre glace ou sucre impalpable ou sucre en poudre ou sucre à glacer ou sucre pulvérisé
Note: Measurements of almonds and icing sugar are mentioned below. First you'll have to measure the almond powder which will determine the quantity of icing sugar to add in. / Les mesures d'amandes et sucre glace sont mentionnées ci-dessous. Il faut mesurer d'abord la poudre d’amande (et non pas les amandes entières) pour savoir combien de sucre glace à ajouter (Lire l’introduction ci-haut de cet article pour plus d'information)
-1 medium sized egg white / 1 blanc d'oeuf de taille moyenne
-1/2 tablespoon of caster sugar (Sanida) / 1/2 c à soupe de sucre semoule (Sanida)
-60 ml orange water / 60 ml de l'eau de fleur d'oranger
-1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon / 1/2 c à thé ou à café de cannelle moulue
-Pinch of gum arabic (Maska Hora) / Une pincée de gomme arabique (Maska 7ora)
-60 ml melted and clarified butter / 60 ml du beurre fondu et clarifié
-Pinch of salt / Une pincée de sel
Method / Préparation:
1-First you need to blanch the almonds. / Faire blanchir les amandes.
2-Use a mortar and pestle to crush gum arabic crystals. Mix the caster sugar with the grains of gum arabic, then grind them together into a fine powder. Sift the obained powder to get rid of any clumping. It is important to grind gum arabic with caster sugar to prevent it sticking together. You can also use the back of a spoon or the bottom of a heavy glass or mug to crush gum arabic. Set aside until needed. / Ecraser au mortier les grains de gomme arabique avec le sucre semoule puis tamiser la poudre obtenue. Il est important d'écraser la gomme arabique avec du sucre pour que les grains ne se collent pas ensemble. Vous pouvez aussi utiliser le dos d'une cuillère ou le fond d'un verre ou une tasse lourde pour écraser la gomme arabique. Laisser de côté.
3-You can use the coffee bean grinder for coffee beans, then process until smooth. The traditional recipe uses a mincer (also known as a hachoir) to grind the blanched almonds. / Pour moudre les amandes blanchies, vous pouvez utiliser un moulin à café électrique. La recette traditionnelle fait moudre les amandes blanchies dans un hachoir pour la viande.
First, you have to measure the almond powder (I had about 600 gr), then add half amount of confectioners' sugar (I added about 300 gr), then add gum arabic, clarified butter, salt, cinnamon, egg white and orange water, then process until smooth. / Il faut mesurer la poudre d'amande d'abord (J'ai eu environ 600 gr), puis ajouter la moitié de la quantité de sucre glace (J'ai mis environ 300 gr), puis ajouter la gomme arabique, blanc d'oeuf, cannelle, sel, et l'eau de fleur d'oranger, puis faire moudre tous les ingrédients ensemble jusqu'à consistance lisse.
Transfer the almond mixture to a big bowl or Kassriya, then knead well, using your hands. This will take about 5 to 8 minutes. The texture of the paste should be smooth. / Transférer la pâte d'amande dans un grand bol ou Kassriya, puis bien pétrir avec les mains. Ceci prendra entre 5 jusqu' à 8 minutes. La texture de la pâte doit être lisse.
Note: You will notice that the paste is very sticky which is normal, so you will need to oil lightly your hands while kneading it. / Vous remarquerez que la pâte est bien collante, ce qui est normal, ainsi vous devriez huiler légèrement vos mains sur les deux faces durant le pétrissage pour faciliter la tâche.
6- Divide almond paste into small portions, roll each portion into a sausage shape and store them in airtight containers. The prepared almond paste can be refrigerated for up to 1 month and can be frozen for several months. / Diviser la pâte d'amande en petites portions, rouler chacune sous forme de saucisse, puis transférer dans des contenants hermétiques. La pâte d'amande préparée peut être réfrigérée pour un maximum de 1 mois et peut être congelée pendant plusieurs mois.
Mamatkamal, K. El Mary