13 July 2011

Hazelnoot spijs or hazelnut stuffing

When I was growing up and I didn’t had much money to spend it was always a treat to be able to buy these cookies stuffed with almond paste. They were as big as my hand and sooooo delicious. Because they contained a lot of sugar and butter it was a good thing I wasn’t able to afford it more often. After I found out how much “bad” stuff was in one cookie I stopped eating them. It seems like the more you know the less you get to enjoy it. So sometimes I just pretend not to know anything…

Anyway I thought I just try and make my own version with less sugar. I like sweet stuff, but not overly sweet stuff and by making things myself I can control the amount of sugar.

Have you ever tried to make almond paste? I haven’t and it supposes to be dead simple. I know the supermarket is selling it. Only one brand is offering it and it is EXPENSIVE! Especially if you compare it to making it yourself. I agree some things are better store bought, but homemade still has my preference.

The ingredients in almond paste are almonds and sugars; lots of sugar. Did you know that when you overly grind the almond paste you’ll end up with marzipan?
The day I wanted to make almond paste I didn’t had any almonds. But I did had a big bag of hazelnuts. My parents have a hazelnut tree in their back yard and it always produces tons of hazelnuts. Mom collected them and gave me some. It was sitting in my pantry for a while cuz I didn’t know what to do with it. So this would be a good opportunity to use them all.
Aren’t they beautiful!
I didn’t had a nutcracker so I had to invent my own. I tried to crack the nuts in a garlic crusher, but it was almost impossible to do it that way. So I put a towel on my stone floor and used the garlic crusher as a hammer.
I tried to use just enough strength to crack the nut and not to crush it all in little pieces. This one had a perfect crack in the middle.
There it was…the perfect hazelnut. It was quite fun to crack the nuts, but after a while and it took some time I was getting kinda bored.
Look at the mess I made just for half a bowl of hazelnuts!
I was quite happy to finish crushing them. Little did I know that next part is more time consuming…
I soaked them in boiled water for 5 minutes or so. That gave me enough time to clean up the mess I made earlier.
They should’ve been easy to peal, but they weren’t. I think it took me an hour to peal each and every one of them.
After one hour of blood, sweat and tears I’ve got some clean creamy white hazelnuts. Finally…
Since I didn’t had a food processor I had to use my stick blender. It didn’t work that well, but got the job done. I put batches of hazelnut in a bowl and grind them till they look like big crumbs.
Then I added the zest of one lemon and squeezed half a lemon on top of the hazelnuts. To this mixture I added about ¾ cup of sugar. I gave it all a mix and used my blender to blend it into a paste.
Then the mixture wend into a bag and I stored it in the fridge. It is about one week ago since I made it so the flavours should be all combined pretty well now. Because of the sugar I think you can store it for quite some time.

Soon it will be time for my mini series. I can’t wait to use this paste!  

13 comments:

  1. I very much like your inventiveness of making your own nutcracker! This looks great and so versatile. I like your blog - am following.

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  2. Wow,,,i can't wait for your mini series about hazelnut paste,it's seem a lot of work but i'm sure you enjoy every second of it when you made it :) good job !! i love hazelnut spread,thanks for sharring.

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  3. Oh yum! I don't think I'd have the patience to clean up the hazelnuts like you did, so bravo!

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  4. You're a super chef :) I think its awesome that you didn't let not having the 'proper' things deter you from making what is no doubt some delicious hazelnut paste!

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  5. Hi Lilly,
    I love the way you improvised a nut cracker, I'm sure this hazelnut paste was great.
    -Gina-

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  6. looks irresistably hearty..:P
    Tasty Appetite

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  7. Hi Lilly, your hazelnut paste from scratch sounds like a wonderful ingredient for many dishes. I'm loving the sound of those almond cookies from your childhood and I'm sure they will taste even better made from hazelnut.

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  8. I was so exited about using my paste today, but I was a little bit busy. I hope it still taste good. When I made it I of course had to taste a little before I stored it and it was gooooood. Nice and nutty, sweet/sour. Very addictive.

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  9. I don't like overly sweet either. It just covers up the real taste of food. How lucky you are that you have tons of hazelnuts, Lilly. I like the paste you made. I will be happy just eating that on its own.

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  10. What a great idea! I love our step-by-step pictures as well! What a nice substitution for almonds as well!

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  11. WOW!!! That seems like a very time consuming process. I hope it tastes as good as it looks. Cant wait to see it in the mini series.

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  12. Wow !What an amazing blog.
    Its one of the best blog.
    Nice blog on almond paste.
    Keep going...

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  13. Thank you all for your kind words!

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