Tag Archives: Heirloom Recipe

Macaroon School: Amaretti

Amaretti

We were fortunate to have Nick Malgieri and Hervé Poussot of Brooklyn’s Almondine Bakery demonstrate techniques for making French macarons and Italian macaroons using American Almond Products last fall. The demo took place at the Institute for Culinary Education in New York.

Attendees were professional bakers and members of the group the Bakers Dozen.

Participants at the Baker's Dozen macaroon demo

Here are some of the terrific ICE students who helped with the demo.

Ice students

This post will discuss Amaretti.  (Look for future posts on chewy Italian macaroons and French almond macrons.) First Nick discussed the two types of Italian macaroons that are common.  There is the chewy type one finds at Italian bakeries in the US.  And then there is the crispy type, like the Amaretti di Saronno.  (The famous Lazaroni amaretti are made using bitter apricot kernels, something available at American Almond in 7 pound cans.) The difference he explained, comes from the quantity of egg whites in the recipe.   There are more egg whites used to make the crisp type of macaroon or amaretti.  And in the US, bakeries will add some honey to the mix.  This helps keep the cookies more chewy after baking.

To make the crunchy, amaretti-style macaroon, first he recommended that the almond paste and sugar be blended slowly until the mixture looks like coarsely ground cheese.  Here is a photo of the first stage of mixing the almond paste and sugar that we took in our test kitchen.

Blending the almond paste and sugar until it looks like grated cheese

He stressed that it is important to add the egg white gradually, beating on the lowest speed possible.  Here is a photo of the first stages of mixing in the egg whites that we took in our test kitchen.

Blending paste and egg whites slowly for amaretti

This keeps the egg whites from whipping while allowing the paste to blend into the sugar.  Here is a photo of the mixture after it has been well blended on low speed that we took in our test kitchen.

The almond mixture after all the egg whites have been added and mixed gently.

After the batter is blended, Nick recommended that you pack the batter into containers and store it in the refrigerator overnight before piping and baking.  This helps deflate any air that may have been beaten into the mixture he explained.

The batter is piped onto parchment-lined baking sheets.  Here is Nick at the demo piping the soft batter.

He had a neat trick to tap down any tip mark that was left on top of the piped batter.  He “slapped” the piped batter gently with a dampened clean towel.

Then the batter is sprinkled with pearl sugar.  (In Europe a coarse sugar crystal called petit sucre en grains is used.  It has a more crystalline appearance.) Here is a piped macaroon dusted with pearl sugar that we found in a Scandinavian store.

The batter is baked until crisp and dry throughout, about 10 to 15 minutes depending on your oven.  Cooling the cookies on their baking sheets also ensures they will be nicely dried throughout.

Here is our adaptation of Nick’s recipe, which he graciously allows us to share with you.

And for those who have the interest, this recipe can be made using American Almond’s Macaroon or Kernel Paste to get a macaroon with more of that taste associated with the packaged Amaretti di Saronno.

Rugelach Time

It’s time for Rugelach.  And here is a lovely discussion of the history of the pastry and a recipe from Joan Nathan’s Jewish Holiday Cookbook. Did you know that eating these half-moon cream cheese pastry ties to a tradition of eating cheesecake on Hanukkah?

We love rugelach on holidays or any time.  They are especially delicious filled with any of our Love’n Bake Schmear Fillings.  Here is one of our rugelach recipes.

From Our Recipe Box – Glazed Poppy Seed Braid

 

Many people have heirloom recipes they bake only for special occasions.  Some are full of nuts or almond paste, others call for fruit fillings. At this time of the year we see sales of our poppy seed filling increase. It is one of those old world flavors that bring back warm memories of times past.

We’ve been looking for a way to present our favorite poppy seed filled sweet dough in a way that just screams “Bake Me Now.” (This lovely dough is enriched with butter, milk and egg yolks.  It is both tender and easy to work with.  A little grated lemon zest adds just enough subtle flavor to the dough after baking but you could add ground cardamom seeds or other spices to the dough.)

We’ve found the answer in a technique described in Ciril Hitz’s book Baking Artisan Pastries.  (Chef Hitz is an extremely talented baker and teacher at Johnson +Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island.)  He calls it a Russian Braid and it could not be easier.

A sugar glaze is spread on the warm loaf right after it comes from the oven.  This glaze crystallizes nicely after it cools.  You could also sprinkle the moist glaze with chopped nuts, poppy seed, streusel topping or anything crunchy to give the finished loaf an attractive and flavorful appearance.

First you roll the dough out into a unifrom rectangle.

Then you spread it with a filling such as our Love’n Bake® Poppy Seed filling. (Any of the Schmear® Fillings would work well too.)

Then you roll up the dough, jelly roll style, into a tight log.  Use your hands to press in the ends of the log of dough into an even tight shape.

Use a sharp chef’s knife or bread knife to cut the log of dough in half lengthwise.  This reveals the layers of poppyseed-filling-coated-dough.

Next you twist the two halves of the log back together, like braiding but so much easier because there are only two pieces of dough.

Brush the proofed dough with egg wash before putting it into the oven.

Once the dough proofs then bakes, the filling is layered throughout the dough in a most mouth-watering way.

A sugar glaze is spread on the warm loaf right after it comes from the oven.  Because it contains corn syrup as well as confectioner’s sugar this glaze crystallizes once it cools.  You could also sprinkle the moist glaze with chopped nuts, poppy seed, streusel topping or anything crunchy to give the finished loaf an attractive and flavorful appearance.

We can’t wait to try this with the Love’n Bake Cinnamon and Chocolate Schmear® Fillings.  And a nice streusel topping placed on top of the loaf before baking or after the glaze is applied will make the loaf so festive.

From Our Recipe Box –Bakery Café Style Almond Croissants

Clever and thrifty French bakers invented Croissant aux Amandes, the twice-baked almond cream filled croissant. Originally this filling was probably used to mask the flaws in a day-old croissant.  Today, the croissants are probably made for this purpose.

Bakery Café Style Almond Croissant
This is an easy way to really dress-up a store-bought product at home. First the sliced croissant is basted in an aromatic sugar syrup.  (We like to use a combination of liqueurs, orange oil, orange flower water and vanilla to give our version that French je ne sais quoi.) Then a generous layer of the cream is spread inside and on top of the croissant before it is sprinkled with sliced almonds and baked.  The croissant turns golden brown in color with a sweet and delicate center and a  crunchy exterior. Filled and coated this way, we’ve found these croissants stay fresh two or three days….if they last that long.

Here’s the recipe for Bakery Café Style Almond Croissants.