I bought a box of confectionary tennis balls for a cute racquet savant when I was 13. Four gorgeous, life-sized orbs of marzipan for a hunky boy in Nürnberg.
I ate them, every one.
A young woman must follow her true passion, after all.
Now that I bake for a joyful living, I stock 10 pound canisters of almond paste just because I can. When I'm not eating straight from the container, I do my best to create lovely pastries that I happily share with my true love, Ray.
What better time to spread the sweet joy than during the holidays?
These are mandelhoernchen writ round, which means they are packed with almond flavor, slightly crispy on the outside and vaguely chewy on the inside.
1 pound almond paste
4 ounces granulated sugar + 1/4 cup set aside for finishing
3 egg whites + 1 egg white set aside for finishing
1/2 cup All Purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 ounces sliced almonds, preferably with skins still on (see picture)
1. Combine almond paste, sugar and salt in a mixing bowl using paddle attachment. Slowly add eggs whites, until a thick, sticky paste like dough is created. You may not need ALL of the egg whites, only enough to create a thick paste that holds its shape and is smooth. An alternative is to mix the paste and sugar in a food processor with a blade attachment and add egg whites while it's running.
2. Sprinkle the flour on a clean surface and rub some on your hands to make sure the almond dough doesn't stick to you. Gently knead the sticky almond dough into the flour until the mixture is less tacky and holds it's shape very well
3. Sprinkle half of the remaining 1/4 of sugar on your work surface. Divide the dough into 2 pieces and roll each into a log about 15 inches long on your sugared surface. Use only enough sugar to keep the paste from sticking to the table and to coat the piece. Cut the log into 13 pieces.
4. Roll each of the dough pieces in the sugar, making sure they stay shaped as little ropes. And make sure the sugar sticks all around. Keep rolling the logs until they are about 5 inches long.
5. Bend the pieces into circle, pinching the ends together to seal and place on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Using a pastry brush, brush each circle with the additional egg white.
6. Place overlapping almond slices all along the circle and along the sides.
7. Brush the almond slivers gently with egg white and sprinkle with sugar.
8. Allow them to dry at room temperature for 3 hours.
9. Bake at 350º for 20 minutes or golden brown. Allow to cool completely
10. Store in an airtight container up to a week or freeze in an airtight container up to a month.