Help me get my almond fix
October 15, 2014 6:02 PM   Subscribe

I am a huge fan of that really intense almond taste you get in certain desserts. I like eating raw and roasted almonds, in granola, sliced in cookies - but that's not the almond taste I'm talking about. I mean that strong, sharp, sweet almond taste like you get from eating Good Humor toasted almond bars and marzipan and amaretti cookies. Ben and Jerry's Mission to Marzipan was basically my favorite dessert of all time. Does that specific flavor come just from almond extract? And what are your best dessert recipes that really highlight that awesome extreme almond flavor?
posted by Neely O'Hara to Food & Drink (25 answers total) 76 users marked this as a favorite
I think you would very much enjoy almond paste.
posted by OrangeDisk at 6:16 PM on October 15, 2014 [6 favorites]

If you have never had homemade marzipan, I suggest you try making your own. I have never made it, so I don't even know how to judge the quality of recipes I am seeing online, but I grew up with homemade marzipan (rolled in cocoa to add a slight chocolate flavor and also reduce the surface stickiness) and the store-bought stuff pales in comparison. Someday, I should learn to make my own.

You might also look for almond butter.
posted by Michele in California at 6:21 PM on October 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The taste you want is bitter almond. Because of asinine fears of cyanide poisoning it is banned in the US. If you totally dig that flavor, like I do, then you can make your own almond paste or drink amaretto liqueur, which uses the pits of apricots to get that delightful bitter almond flavor. You used to be able to get bitter almond extract in Europe but the last time I was in Austria I could not find it.
posted by jadepearl at 6:23 PM on October 15, 2014 [5 favorites]

Try searching for desserts that use mahlab - it's a spice made from the pits of sour cherries and it is more almond-y than even the most intense almond. Penzey's has it, and it's delightfully, bracingly intense.
posted by julthumbscrew at 6:24 PM on October 15, 2014 [5 favorites]

I am soooo with you on this. These King Arthur Flour Cookies are the best for that taste. They contain almond paste, extract, AND the elusive bitter almond oil. They are the best!
posted by zem at 6:24 PM on October 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

Have you tried bitter almond extract...? Very strong.

I have a candy thing I don't have a recipe for, but it's marzipan kneaded with a bit of instant coffee powder and Bailey's, formed around a maraschino cherry, and dipped in chocolate.

[on preview -- you can definitely get bitter almond extract in the US]
posted by kmennie at 6:25 PM on October 15, 2014 [3 favorites]

When feeling too lazy for a real recipe, I mix almond extract into good plain yogurt. Goes great with cherries and/or apricots mixed in, too.
posted by Bentobox Humperdinck at 6:37 PM on October 15, 2014 [2 favorites]

Huzzah, kmennie, I love you! I am a ordering my bitter almond extract, stateside.

OK, here is the best almond paste recipe with the only change being using bitter almond extract to amp the flavor instead of kirsch, though that is fine too.

I use shaved almond paste when making a bread pudding with rehydrated fruit such as, cherries, craisins , golden raisins and dried apricot.

The rule of thumb is stone fruits take to almond flavoring very well so desserts that use fruits like cherries, apricots, peaches and plums pair very well with both sweet and bitter almond.

For something different, here are two Asian recipes that I grew up with, almond soup and almond jelly (1 and 2).
posted by jadepearl at 6:40 PM on October 15, 2014 [3 favorites]

Almond paste. It's that intense, chewy, delicious almond flavor in almond horns.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:43 PM on October 15, 2014

Perhaps you would like turrón?
posted by Mrs. Rattery at 7:24 PM on October 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I think you will like this almond cake, which is made with plenty of almond paste and bitter almond extract. You might consider topping it with whipped cream flavored with a glug or two of amaretto liqueur.
posted by ourobouros at 8:02 PM on October 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: nthing almond paste—it basically exists to add super-concentrated almond flavor to baked goods. This almond cake recipe gets gobbled up every time I make it. I like to top it with homemade blueberry coulis at serving time.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 8:31 PM on October 15, 2014

My mom's swedish teacakes are very almondy, my favourite treat from home. Not burnt, though... Best thing ever, and very pretty as this golden brown dome forms over the filled tart.

Swedish tea cakes

1 cup soft butter
½ cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour

Cream butter and sugar. Beat in egg and vanilla.
Measure flour and stir in.
Drop rounded teaspoon of batter in each greased muffin cup.
Press batter over bottom and up around sides – to ¼ inch thick.
Chill in refrigerator.
Heat oven oven to 325 degrees F.
Fill hollows with Almond Filling.
Bake 25-30 minutes, makes 12 (or 24 tiny)

Beat two eggs until light and foamy. Gradually add ½ cup sugar and blend well.
Mix in 1 ¼ cups chopped or slivered almonds, plus ½ tsp almond flavouring.
posted by chapps at 11:00 PM on October 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

Bitterkoekjes are chewy Dutch cookies with a strong almond flavor. Here are some recipes in English.
posted by neushoorn at 1:12 AM on October 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'm completely with you, almond baked things are the best. My favourite of them all is the almond finger. Googling around a little, it looks like they're a dutch thing, probably pretty similar to the Bitterkoekjes mentioned above. These are differently shaped, they look like this, and here's a recipe, though that doesn't look almondy enough for me, so I'd swap half the flour for finely ground almonds. Another thing I found whilst trawling google for dutch almondy things are these gevulde koeken which I've never tried, but they look delicious, and I think I'll need to make soon.
posted by Ned G at 3:19 AM on October 16, 2014

Maybe Norwegian speciality kransekake is for you? It's fairly close to roasted marzipan anyway.

Don't bother with constructing an 18-layer tower if all you want is to taste it, though. Just roll out some "fingers" and pop them in the oven.
posted by Harald74 at 5:25 AM on October 16, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Pignoli cookies!
posted by functionequalsform at 7:08 AM on October 16, 2014

I have added sliced store-bought almond paste to pear pies, and it is excellent. I use a package (~1/3 c.) of almond paste per 10" pie, but you could up it.
posted by momus_window at 7:42 AM on October 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: If you're curious as to where this flavor comes from: Both cherries and almonds contain benzaldehyde. Or, rather, cherries contain amygdalin, which decomposes into benzaldehyde. Apricot kernals are another source of amygdalin.

Cherry flavor comes primarily from benzaldehyde, and benzaldehyde is the base of artificial almond flavor.

So, you're the opposite of this asker in that you're really into the flavor of benzaldehyde.
posted by Juliet Banana at 7:46 AM on October 16, 2014 [5 favorites]

This recipe is one of my favorites and has almond paste with dark chocolate and apricot jam. So the almond is there but a little more subtle. Seven Layer Cookies
posted by katieanne at 8:45 AM on October 16, 2014

I love this stuff at Chinese/ Asian markets: almond agar dessert. There's different brands you can get at any Asian market. Prepared just like you would Jell-O, you could use milk or condensed milk (I use a combination of both) to give you a light, sweet, creamy, almond-y dessert. I prefer it served with lychees and chopped, roasted cashews for texture.
posted by Everydayville at 10:42 AM on October 16, 2014 [3 favorites]

Almond croissants -- the kind filled with almond paste and glazed with sliced almonds and sugar. I get mine from Tartine in SF, but any sufficiently legit French bakery will carry these. They are a patisserie staple.

Here's a recipe!
posted by ananci at 1:33 PM on October 16, 2014

Response by poster: These are all great answers, thanks so much! I am fascinated that benzaldehyde is the flavor that's been tickling my fancy - I almost even mentioned in my original question that it also reminded me of the smell of Jurgen's cherry almond soap. I can't wait to try these recipes!
posted by Neely O'Hara at 5:43 PM on October 18, 2014

Take two of these and thank me in the morning.
posted by turbid dahlia at 3:15 PM on October 19, 2014

So late to the game but I remembered the name of these little almond cakes I love. Friands!

Here is a recipe for a blueberry version, but recipes abound. The french place by my home makes them plain, dusted with sugar.
posted by mochapickle at 10:48 AM on November 19, 2014

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