7 April 2009


Almond Butter

ALMOND BUTTER : Every once and a while I get a hankering for peanut butter. But I normally put it aside when faced with the astronomical price of Sfr 5 (~$5) for a small 250g jar. In Switzerland peanut butter does not rank amongst the basic, inexpensive food staples  –  it is an imported oddity, that many Swiss people, like my husband, have never tried. The whole idea of peanut butter & jam sandwiches, not to mention banana left him cold. That was of course until he tried it and like the rest of us, fell hopelessly in love with this sticky nutty spread. It makes me think of the film Meet Jo Black when the butler asks him what he would like, ‘just the butter & a spoon?’.

There is another perversity in this whole peanut butter loving situation and that is that it normally gives me a stomach ache. I think it has something to do with the oils they use to make it. Which got me to thinking about making nut butters in general and people with peanut allergies. It must be especially hard on children not being able to eat certain foods and helpful for mothers to have tasty alternatives. Coincidence would have it that I had two packages of whole almonds and a little free time, so I set about making my own almond butter.

Rave reviews is all I have to say. Absolutely delicious! The only issue I ran into was the desire to further reduce the amount of oil used, however the choice was between that and ruining my new blender, so I decided not to risk it. However if you do try this recipe with less oil please let me know how it turns out. I also recommend substituting a little almond oil instead of sunflower, it adds to the almond butter taste, which has a slight sweetness with a hint of sea salt to compliment.




20 May 2008

Almond Cake

ALMOND CAKE {GATEAU AUX AMANDES}: I think my pantry has been learning old tricks from the washing machine – you put two socks in and only one comes out…. you place a packet of almonds in the pantry and they vanish – coincidence I THINK NOT!

To avoid ‘the hunt of humiliation’ the only logical solution was to get their 1st – buy the almonds and use them right away. Which in my case in not difficult as I am a big fan of this nut.

The original recipe for this cake comes from Thomas Keller’s cookbook ‘Bouchon’, and uses almond paste and amaretto. I first tried this recipe using 2 substitutions : almond essence & ‘masse d’amande’ – a very thick French almond butter made with ground almonds, soya beans and sugar.

My cake turned out wonderfully moist & flavourful – which got me to thinking. If others wanted the same results & didn’t have access to this almond paste, it would be useful to know how to make it from scratch. Thus I have created a homemade recipe, which makes a little extra almond paste that you can keep in the fridge and use as a spread on toast – delicious dear diary!

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See link ‘Almond cake‘ below for the recipe:



4 December 2007


AMARETTI These well known Italian almond cookies, get their name from the Italian word ‘amaro’ meaning ‘bitter’ as they are made with bitter almonds & ‘etti’ indicating that they are small. Don’t be scared off, as most of you know, these cookies are anything but bitter, and the ones I make are not small!

Though I have to say that the Nona’s out there must have a hidden family secret or simply a magic fairy in the pantry, that allows them to make this recipe perfectly every time. Let’s just say that I was a ‘virgin amaretti maker’ a ‘babe in the kitchen’ and was in serious need of 1. a pair of training wheels 2. a Nona with a black belt in Italian patisserie and 3. to “borrow” that little magic fairy….

As my 1st attempt produced a very sad, poor excuse for amaretti …. they were lifeless and flat, and while the exterior was shiny & crispy, the biggest disappointment was yet to come – as biting into the cookie you were to discover – NOTHING, AIR, VOID, HOLLOW SPACE…. oooh that cannot be good I though.

So I went back to the drawing board. After much reading & baking, I came accross Yvonne’s recipe for amaretti’s. For this I have to say ‘chapeau’, my hat goes off to her – so impressed was I with these cookies, that I was inspired to create my own version based on her recipe – omitting the cocoa powder & almond decoration,  and using pure almond essence. These amaretti cookies are easy to make, have a lovely almond taste and a wonderfully soft centre!