Almond Pastry Cream and Marzipan Recipe


After a subliminal prodding, I made some almond paste from scratch. Considering how much of the stuff a commercial bakery would go through, I made a very small amount, but I realized that I was only going to need a little bit of it to make the pastry cream to fill my Danish, so I decided to use the rest to make one of her favorite sweets: Marzipan. Please find the process(es) after the jump.

Pastry cream is a highly versatile ingredient (HA, I sound like an Iron Chef judge). It is easy enough to make, the whole process takes less than 20 minutes, and should be in the arsenal of anyone with even a fleeting interest in baking. The only difference between this recipe and a standard pastry cream is the inclusion of almond paste (in place of some of the sugar) and the use of almond extract instead of vanilla extract or bean. Pastry cream is a corn starch thickened, cooked, stirred custard. Here is what you will need:

2 Tbl almond paste (warmed)
1.25 cups whole milk or half and half
.5 cup sugar
pinch salt
2 egg yolks
2 Tbl cornstarch
1 Tbl butter
few drops almond extract (optional)

Add almond paste to milk and scald over medium heat, whisking to incorporate the paste completely
Combine room temperature egg yolks with sugar, salt and cornstarch, whisk to combine
Temper a small amount of the hot milk into the egg yolk mixture, and then pour the egg mixture back into the milk and return to heat, whisking your little heart out the whole time (unless you like scrambled eggs in your pastry cream)
Heat the cream back toward a boil such that the cornstarch reaches the temperature required to thicken correctly, about 200 F (95 C) As you are whisking the whole time, you will be able to tell clearly when this happens. Keep on heat for additional minute then remove
Whisk in butter to give it a nice sheen, and then taste. If you want it more “almondy,” add a few drops of extract
Cover in plastic wrap (directly on the top of the cream to prevent a skin from forming) and refrigerate until cold and ready for use
It is advisable to run the pastry cream through a strainer to remove any curdled egg pieces or almond bits. The only reason I skipped it is because I was 100% sure there was no gunk in there (I made the almond paste myself and was VERY careful when tempering my egg yolks). As Thomas Keller says, “When in doubt, strain.”

Now on to the marzipan. Once you have the almond paste you are 85% of the way to delicious marzipan. This is what you will need:

1 part almond paste (I had about 6 oz)
1 part confectionery sugar
small amount of flavored liqour, Kirsch is traditional, I used Brandy because I had some
Here is the mis en place:

Warm almond paste until it is fairly malleable (mine sat on top of the stove while the oven was on)
Combine almond paste and sugar in the bowl of a mixer
Mix on low speed with the paddle attachment, adding the liquor 1/8th of a tsp at a time until it just comes together into a dough
Knead lightly into a ball

I recommend wrapping it tightly in plastic wrap at this point, and then refrigerating it overnight to allow the flavors and texture to settle completely prior to eating/using. I have a loose plan to make some molded chocolates out of this stuff and some Amedei Chuao (why not, it’s only $12 a bar, right?),

but for now we are just snacking on it. Keep out of the reach of small children and adults with a penchant for sweets, lest it should disappear forthwith.