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Saturday, August 29, 2015

Recipe: Almond Cream (Crème D'Amandes)


Berry and Peach Crostata with Almond Cream

Recipe: Almond Cream (Crème D'Amandes)



So what if it didn't make my list of the 10 Pastry Recipes Everyone Should Know? It certainly deserves an honorable mention.

Almond Cream (or Crème D'Amandes, in French... which sounds like an excellent drag queen name) is a simple mix of primarily Almond Flour, Sugar and Eggs. When baked inside of various pastries, it thickens into a sweet, rich and intensely nutty filling. That magic inside of an Almond Croissant... you guessed it... that's Almond Cream.

When Almond Cream was first introduced in Culinary School, I hated it. It tasted cloyingly sweet and artificial! The problem was the recipe. We were instructed to use Almond Paste, a pre-manufactured mixture of Almonds and Sugar, rather than Almond Flour. 

The simple switch to Almond Flour, as in this recipe, made a world of difference. Sugar took a back seat and the Almonds became the star. I then found myself devouring an entire Gateau Pithivier on my own. I was a convert.


Almond Cream (Crème D'Amandes)
Looks delicious, doesn't it? Okay... maybe it's not the most photogenic product to come out of the pastry world, but it is delicious.

The recipe for Almond Cream is about as straight forward as they come. Simply cream Almond Flour with Sugar and Butter. When those ingredients are light and fluffy, add Eggs along with some Corn Starch, which acts as a thickening agent. The flavor can be enhanced by adding some Alcohol. Rum is a traditional accompaniment, given how well it pairs with Almond. 

Since Almond Flour does not form gluten when mixed, you do not need to worry about over-mixing. However, the more you beat the Almond Cream, the more air that gets incorporated into the mixture. That will cause the Almond Cream to soufflé or inflate when baked. Depending on how you plan to use the Almond Cream, that may or may not be a desirable feature.

Almond Cream (Crème D'Amandes) Spread into a Puff Pastry Crust
A little Almond Cream goes a long way. When using the Cream as a filling, remember that the flavor is strong and the texture is rich. And make sure you are prepared for the Cream to soufflé or inflate when baked. Even though it will settle again when it cools, if you fill a tart with too much Almond Cream, I can guarantee it will spill over in the oven.

Almond Cream (Crème D'Amandes) Covered with Berry Compote
When Almond Cream is used as a filling with other ingredients, it will take a surprisingly long time to fully bake. For instance, this Crostata, which had a base layer of Almond Cream topped with a Berry Compote and Peaches, took over 50 minutes to cook through. And since Almond Cream contains raw Eggs, under-baking could be problematic. No one likes a Salmonella Tart.

Baked Berry and Peach Crostata with Almond Cream (Crème D'Amandes)





- The Recipe -




Almond Cream (Creme D'Amandes):

This recipe is adapted from one covered in the Professional Pastry Arts program at The International Culinary Center 

Yield: 950g - 1 quart

Ingredients:
  • Almond Flour / Meal: 250g (2.25 Cups)
  • Butter, cubed: 250g (1.125 Cups / 2.25 Sticks)
  • Sugar: 250g (1.25 Cups)

  • Eggs: 150g (3x)
  • Rum (or other Alcohol), optional: 30g (2 Tbls)

  • Corn Starch: 24g (3 Tbls)


Directions:

1. In a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the Almond Flour/Meal, Butter and Sugar until they are light and fluffy.

Chef’s note: Either fine ground Almond Flour or coarser Almond Meal can be used for this recipe. You can make your own Almond Meal by toasting raw almonds, allowing them to cool, and then grinding them in a food processor.

2. While continuing to mix on medium speed, add the Eggs, one at a time. Wait until each Egg is fully incorporated before adding the next Egg so that the ingredients form a stable emulsion.

3Once all of the Eggs have been incorporated, add the Corn Starch and Rum (or other Alcohol) and mix until combined.

4. Use the Almond Cream immediately or store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. As the Almond Cream contains raw eggs, it must be baked before serving and is not intended to be used as an unbaked product.

Storage:

- The Almond Cream will keep for up to a week in an airtight container in the refrigerator. If refrigerated, the Almond Cream should be beaten smooth before using.



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4 comments:

  1. good review. I have actually read a lot of your blog posts in the last hour. I really enjoy what you are doing here. (And as a writer of fantasy novels, I'm enjoying looking at different aspects of that when you go through them in blogposts). And truly, I love world-culture building. I love this food.

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    1. So glad that you found the blog and have had time to read some of the other posts! I genuinely love writing it, so knowing that there are engaged readers means a lot!

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  2. I just tried this yummy recipe from your blog and it has come out really yummy!! :)
    This is my first dish and I am quite happy with the outcome...
    Thanks for sharing this easy recipe :)

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    1. Fantastic. Glad it worked well and that you enjoyed it. One of my favorites too!

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