Almondines – A Classic

Good morning my fellow quarantinettes!

I imagine that you’ve cleaned the pantry, weeded the garden, binge-watched your shows and taken the kids on maybe a million walks around the block by now. How about a change of scenery? My girlfriend and blogging-buddy, Mary Knight, offered a peek into her world of food and fancies and agreed to share the following recipe with us! Mary travels the world, making friends, creating recipes, and curating mouth watering photos. She’s interviewed Julia Child herself and that will get a girl inspired, wouldn’t you agree?

Mary’s blog is a cornucopia of glorious photos of recipes and travel. SpoonAndSuitcase.com will take you on a tour of Portugal, Sicily, or Santa Fe without leaving the living room and is a breath of fresh air in a world afraid to inhale. Let’s take some time to relax.

Grab some almond paste from Amazon and clear the kitchen, because we’re going to make Almondines!

While cleaning out an upper cupboard in my closet last week, I discovered a forgotten box. A treasure full of old recipes I had created when I taught cooking classes, as well as letters and postcards I’d sent my parents from La Varenne in Paris, France. It was like opening a present on Christmas day. The “missing pieces” from my life suddenly inspired me to go back to the recipes I’d embraced many years ago. Early in my cooking career, ideas for recipes came like lightning strikes, unexpected but exhilarating, followed by cloud bursts of extended creations. It all seemed so easy. I almost couldn’t get the ideas down fast enough, not to mention implement them.

Here is one of those recipes for Almondines that I’ve adapted. The results impressed me more than I’d expected. The tart is made delectable by the inclusion of almond paste. Rich and tender, the almond filling almost melts on the tongue and the unifying light almond crust is the accent mark. Divine. It’s been a hit with all my taste testers. The best part is you can fill the tarts with the almond creme, sprinkle on the sliced almonds and freeze for an impromptu breakfast or tea time. They only take about 18 minutes to bake or about 25 if frozen. I’m making a batch to freeze for weekend guests and neighbor thank you’s. Enjoy!

Almondines

Course Breakfast, Dessert
Cuisine French
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 18 minutes
Servings 11

Equipment

  • small tart tins
  • food processor (optional)

Ingredients

  • 4 oz butter (this is equal to 1 stick or 100 grams of butter)
  • 1/2 cup sugar or 100 grams
  • 7 oz almond paste or 198 grams
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup flour or 65 grams
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp almond extract

Pâte Sucrée (Sweet Pastry Dough)

  • cup flour
  • tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 4 oz unsalted, cold, cubed, butter (this is equal to 1 stick or 100 grams of butter)
  • 1 egg yolk
  • ½ tsp almond extract
  • 3 Tbsp ice water
  • ½ cup sliced almonds

Pate Sucree

(This is my favorite from A French Chef Cooks at Home by Jacques Pepin) I added the almond extract. Feel free to use your favorite crust recipe too.

Instructions

  • Combine the flour, salt and sugar.
  • Cut in the butter pieces until size of small peas.
  • Combine the egg yolk, almond extract and water.
  • Drizzle into the flour mixture and combine gently.
  • If the pastry feels too dry, add a bit more water.
  • Knead lightly to form a ball. Pat the ball into a 6” round, wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least a half an hour.

Notes

I use a food processor to make my crusts.

Almondine Filling

Instructions

  • Cream the butter, sugar and almond paste together.
  • Beat in the eggs one by one.
  • Beat until light in color and fluffy. This will take about 5 minutes.
  • Slowly add the flour and salt. Stir in almond extract. Mix just until combined.
  • You can refrigerate the filling at this time or use immediately.

Notes

  1. I made this recipe using organic sugar with crystals much larger than the white C&H variety. The crystals melted into the butter and did not whip up into a fluffy mass. The filling was much denser than I like. I prefer using regular white sugar for the filling for a lighter crumb.
  2. I prefer to weigh my ingredients. There is a tiny bit of discrepancy in the measurements when you use Standard vs Metric measuring. This is not enough to alter the recipe.

Create Almondines Like A Rock Star

Instructions

  • Roll the dough out to ⅛”-1/4” thick. Cut into rounds appropriate for your tart tins. I used 4” tart tins and the recipe made 11 tarts. You can also make one large tart using a 9” quiche tin. If the dough seems too sticky, you can pinch off pieces of dough and fit them into the tart molds.
  • Pat the dough into the tins and put in freezer to chill.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • When the pastry crusts are cold, fill with almond mixture and sprinkle with sliced almonds. Pat the almonds down slightly to help them adhere to the filling.
  • Bake for 15-18 minutes. They are done when deep brown on top.
  • Brush with strained apricot jam when warm to create a beautiful glaze.

Notes

These can also be frozen after they are baked.

Believe in your heart that you’re meant to live a life full of passion, purpose, magic and miracles.”
― Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart

Caio for now,

Hey Hey We’re the Monkeys

Because we love yeasty warm smells in the kitchen and because I miss long days with nothing better to do and because my fam is being awesome about my new job, we did this:

 

If you’re about to drool into your cellphone, I agree.

Let’s start at the beginning and I’ll walk you through a virtual Monkey Bread baking blog.

If I could only add a scratch-n-sniff meme, this would be complete.

You can go one of two ways:

  1. mix this in a big bowl with a wooden spoon and then knead by hand for ten minutes, getting a super arm and shoulder workout, or
  2. layer it in your bread machine that you still have from the early 90’s and hopefully makes round loaves because you’re cool like that. And also, you’re lazy like that.

Monkey Bread

1 1/3 C. warm milk
2 tbsp. diced butter
2 eggs
2 tbsp. sugar
2/3 tsp salt
4 C. flour
2 1/2 tsp. yeast

I’m not telling you which way I made this perfect little lump o’ dough, but many watts died in the process.

 

(What? What is she talking about? What watt?)

Let the lump rise for an hour or so in a warm place. I turned my oven on for a minute and then turned it off again, and set the dough inside to rise. If you’re not careful, it will be too hot and kill the yeast and then you will have a hard little lump of dough to go bowling with. We’re going for just mildly warmish here.

Next, turn your big puffy lump out onto a lightly floured countertop and show it who’s boss. This is the fun part. The punching, pushing, slapping, poking, kneading, and stretching reminds the kids that they are just a sass away from a trip to the family bakery.

Now we take the reduced lump and start pulling it apart.

 

Over and over and over…twist and pull. The smaller you make them, the more fun it will be to eat later.

 

Roll the dough into little balls and toss them into any shape pan you want. It makes into a nice sized loaf, so grab a pan big enough and butter the inside first. You could bake them in a glass or metal mixing bowl, or a casserole. I used my angel food cake pan. This is going to the monkeys, so it won’t stay in this shape longer than five minutes once it’s done, anyway.

Layer in half of the dough balls, sprinkle with your sugar/cinnamon mix, and repeat.

 

Pour two melted tablespoons of butter over it all. Your pan is already buttered though, right?

Set this little beauty back into a warm place to rise up for another hour. Clean your mess. Yes, I see it.

While it rises, get out your frosting stuff. Because, cream cheese.

 

Cream Cheese Frosting
6 oz softened cream cheese
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp milk
16 oz powdered sugar

Mix together to desired consistency:
thinner, add milk 1 tsp at a time
thicker, add powdered sugar 1 tbsp at a time

This is the standard recipe, but life isn’t always so tidy, at least in the kitchen. I myself would have just layered a slab of cream cheese on a hot slice of Monkey Bread and called it a day, but when you add sugar and thin it out a bit with milk, it impresses the company.

Your Monkey Bread.

Your rules.

When it’s puffed up to your liking, bake it in a preheated oven at 350* for 20-30 minutes, depending on your pan. You will know it’s done when it smells terrific in the house and when you peek in the oven, it looks toasty on top.  Reach in and tap the bread; if it sounds hollow, you win. Let’s eat.

 

Let it cool for a few minutes, then dump it upside down over a plate, out of it’s pan.

I sliced it to make a pretty picture and to make life fair.

 

The kids were disappointed.

The right way to eat this, so I’m told, is for everyone to lay a hand on the bread, count to three and pull.

You then proceed to eat your hunk of bread by hand, dipping lumps into the frosting tub.

Animals.