If you’re a dessert lover, you’ve undoubtedly had your hands on almond paste at one time or another. As delicious as it is inside your pastries and chocolates, it’s equally frustrating when it’s still inside the tube and has gone hard on you.
So what is the best way to soften almond paste? The best way to soften almond paste is to warm it up either in your microwave or in a double boiler on the stove, slowly and carefully, stirring or kneading consistently until it’s the perfect texture for you once again.
There’s a lot more to learn about almond paste, however, so keep reading to find a variety of alternative ways to soften your paste along with answers to all your almond paste questions.
What is Almond Paste?
Almond paste is made with ground, blanched almonds and sugar. They’re blended together with glycerin, egg whites, cooking oil, heavy cream or some other liquid. Some bakers will also add some almond or cherry extract for an additional hit of flavor.
Commercial almond paste sometimes incorporates ground apricot or peach kernels in an effort to reduce the cost, as almonds are rather expensive, especially when compared to what is commonly considered a waste product. If you want to learn more, you can check out this article.
Almond paste, if not used, will store well, but does tend to harden if you don’t store it very carefully and perfectly airtight. The sugar crystallizes and needs to be reconstituted in order to make the paste usable again.
There are a few ways to turn this dream into a reality.
Quickest Way to Soften Almond Paste
As with most things these days, it seems that the quickest way to soften almond paste if you’re in a hurry is by using a microwave.
- Take your paste out of its packaging and place it into a microwave-safe bowl.
- Set the microwave for no more than 10 seconds at a time and mix the paste with a whisk or fork every time the bell dings.
- Continue until the paste is smooth again but stop and try another method if the paste looks like it’s drying out even more.
Alternative Ways to Soften Almond Paste
- If you’re only trying to soften a small amount of almond paste, leave it wrapped well, and massage it with your hands, kneading it until it’s soft and pliable again. The warmth of your hands will help soften the paste, but the wrap will keep it from sticking to you.
- If the paste is only slightly hard, place it in a warm bowl and add a very small amount of additional liquid, mixing thoroughly. If the paste is homemade, the best option is to use the same liquid as was in the original recipe, such as egg whites or heavy cream. If you’re not sure what was originally used, you can try a few drops of flavorless cooking oil or simply water.
- If the entire package is rock hard, put it all in a food processor and chop it up. The heat of the movement should warm it enough to soften small pieces and work them all back together again.
- If it’s a somewhat large amount of almond paste, place it into a double boiler and let the heat and steam soften it. If that’s not enough to get it into working order yet, you can try adding some heavy cream or a little milk. Start with tiny amounts so you don’t over-cream your paste.
- If you don’t have a double-boiler, you can try simply putting the paste into a blender or food processor with a bit of cream or milk and blending it till it’s smooth and at the perfect texture for your needs.
- If you have a vegetable steamer, you can line it with parchment paper, place your almond paste on the paper, and let it steam soft again.
- A common softening technique for marzipan that should also work for paste as well is to leave the paste wrapped in plastic and nestled in-between 2 pieces of bread or 2 halves of a cut apple, sealing the entire package in a bag and letting it sit overnight on your counter.
- One baker even suggests leaving your paste settled between the bread for a few days before using, in order to soften it perfectly.
- Finally, you can also try putting a slice of bread inside with the almond paste and letting that sit overnight. The paste should soak up the moisture from the bread to rehydrate itself, similar to keeping a slice of bread in with your brown sugar to keep it nice and fresh.
If all the softening techniques fail, don’t give up on your almond paste quite yet.
Crumble it into as small particles as you can manage and use it as a decadent crumble topping. If it’s not enough to top anything properly, add some bulk by mixing in some toasted oats or nuts.
Frequently Asked Questions About Almond Paste
Below is a list of frequently asked questions about almond paste that we feel you should know. Enjoy filling your brain with almond paste knowledge!
Is there a difference between marzipan and almond paste?
In the US, yes there is. In the UK they’re one and the same, but in the US, marzipan has a higher ratio of sugar to almonds than paste does. You’ll generally find paste is about 50/50, whereas marzipan has up to 75% sugar.
This makes a texture difference, so in the US, almond paste is used for filling pastries and chocolates whereas marzipan is often dyed, rolled out and used to mold decorative shapes or ice cakes.
Is almond flour the same as almond paste?
Almond paste is made from mixing ground almonds, or almond flour, with sugar and a liquid until it becomes a paste. Almond flour is, therefore, a primary ingredient in almond paste, but they are not the same thing.
How do I get the lumps out of my almond paste?
If you’re finding the almond paste isn’t blending well with your other recipe ingredients, it may be dry, in which case any of the above methods of softening the paste will work.
Alternatively, you can try using a food processor to blend your paste into your other ingredients smoothly, if it is appropriate for the recipe.
Does almond paste need refrigerated after opening?
Yes, to preserve the freshness and moisture of your paste, you should keep any leftovers well sealed in your refrigerator.
If it came in a tube with a lid, make sure the lid is tightly screwed on. If it’s homemade, you can store it in a Tupperware container that has an airtight seal.
If you’d like to be extra protective, you can cover the surface with plastic wrap before sealing with the lid.
Does almond paste have sugar in it?
Yes. As a general rule, almond paste is 50/50 almonds and sugar, along with egg white and possibly some salt and/or almond extract. To make the paste nice and light and smooth, many bakers choose to use confectioners or powdered sugar instead of traditional white sugar.
Can I freeze almond paste?
Yes, you most certainly can! The trick is to carefully seal your paste in single-use serving sizes, depending on what you plan on using it for in the future. This way you don’t have to worry about thawing more paste than you need to use.
To freeze, you can simply scoop a serving size of the paste onto some plastic wrap and wrap the paste tightly. If you have more than one packet, you can place them all together in a single freezer-safe Ziploc bag. It’s always a good idea to label the bag with the date and the serving size.
Does almond paste go bad?
Nuts as a group do go rancid, but they’re also very oily, which means that under the proper circumstances they’ll keep well for a long time.
If you store your almond paste well sealed in the fridge or freezer it should last for at least a year.
Is there a substitute for almond paste?
Not really. Some people have tried to substitute using cashew or almond butter, but the flavor is entirely different. You might try mixing equal parts sugar with powdered almonds and water until you get a flavor that you enjoy.
What is almond paste used for?
Almond paste is most commonly used as a filling for desserts like cakes, pastries, and cookies, but it can also be used to create glazes or sauces for savory dishes with a twist.
Is almond paste gluten-free?
The ingredients in almond paste are gluten-free, yes, but to be truly gluten-free, you must look for the label that indicates the product was made in a gluten-free facility, to be sure that there is no cross-contamination. If you make it yourself, you can be self-assured that your almond paste is gluten-free.
Where can you buy almond paste?
Almond paste is easily available in most grocery stores and supermarkets. You’ll be most likely to find it in the baking aisle. Even large department stores with grocery sections carry almond paste, such as Walmart, where it might be found with the nut butters and spreads.
Of course, you can also order it online from everyone’s favorite retailer, Amazon. Our favorite option is to buy in bulk so you never run out: Mandelin Natural Almond Paste.