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Almond Paste

Blanch almonds by dipping in boiling water for 1 min., then pinching
skins off nuts. Allow to dry well on cookie sheets for several
days, stirring and turning the nuts occasionally. Do not dry in
oven! From now on, work with one pound batches. Put nuts through
a food processor for two to three minutes, or until finely ground
and oily. For each one pound batch:

2 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 lb ground almonds
4 Tbsp. water
1 Tbsp. rose water

Mix sugar and water in saucepan. Cook to the end of the soft ball
stage, or 240. Add ground almonds, water and rose water Stir
mixture well, and pour into a plastic food storage bag to store.
If lumpy, you can knead it in the bag when it cools some. To store,
drop plastic bag into 1 qt. Ziploc freezer bag, and seal well.
Stores in refrigerator for a month or so, or can store in freezer
indefinitely. It's best to make this a couple of weeks before you
need to use it. See following recipe for use.


Cherry Brandy Marzipan Balls

Start with one bag of the almond paste. Get a good kneading surface
(I have a large pastry board), and spread lots of powdered sugar.
Begin kneading the almond paste on it, gradually working in the
powdered sugar. Add 2 T. Kirschwasser (German cherry brandy) (or
vanilla, rum flavoring, rose water, lemon juice, etc.), one at a
time, continuing to knead it in, and adding more powdered sugar as
needed. Knead until no longer sticky, feeling a bit like bread
dough that has been kneaded well. You will use about a pound of
powdered sugar per batch.

Roll into balls about the size of a hazelnut. Melt Baker's semi-sweet
chocolate squares, beginning with 5 squares, until smooth, either
in a double boiler, or in the microwave. Remove from heat, and
add three more squares, allowing to melt. This tempers the chocolate,
and brings it to a good dipping temperature. Repeat the process
when you run low, but don't let yourself run all the way to the
bottom of the bowl, as it causes streaks in the chocolate. I like
to keep my chocolate bowl sitting over hot water in the bottom of
the double boiler, to keep it from cooling too fast. Dip the balls,
and place on wax-paper-lined cookie sheets. Do not let them sit
with direct sun on the candies, or in a warm place like the top of
the refrigerator.

When finished with a pan, allow to dry in the coolest room in the
house. When dry, place candies in paper petit-fours cups, and
store in a tightly closed tin, in a cool place (warmth will separate
the chocolate, turning it white--its fine to eat, but doesn't look
so pretty!) Stores best in the freezer for long term, or in the
refrigerator for short term.

Makes about 110 balls.


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