For a single dish of pastry, blanch seven ounces of fine sweet almonds and one of bitter; † throw them into cold water as they are done, and let them remain in it for an hour or two; then wipe, and pound them to the finest paste, moistening them occasionally with a few drops of cold water, to prevent their oiling; next, add to, and mix thoroughly with them, seven ounces of highly-refined, dried, and sifted sugar; put them into a small preserving-pan, or enamelled stewpan, and stir them over a clear and very gentle fire until they are so dry as not to adhere to the finger when touched; turn the paste immediately into an earthen pan or jar, and when cold it will be ready for use.
* The French make their fruit-tarts generally thus, in large shallow pans. Plums, split and stoned (or if small kinds, left entire), cherries and currants freed from the stalks, and various other fruits, all rolled in plenty of sugar, are baked in the uncovered crust; or this is baked by itself, and then filled afterwards with fruit previously stewed tender.
† When these are objected to, use half a pound of the sweet almonds.
Sweet almonds, 7 ozs.; bitter almonds, 1 oz.; cold water, 1 table-epoonfui; sugar, 7 ozs.
The pan in which the paste is dried should by no means be placed upon the fire, but high above it on a bar or trevet: should it be allowed by accident to harden too much, it must be sprinkled plentifully with water, broken up quite small, and worked, as it warms, with a strong wooden spoon to a smooth paste again. We have found this method perfectly successful; but, if time will permit, it should be moistened some hours before it is again set over the fire.
Butter slightly the smallest-sized patty-pans, and line them with the almond-paste rolled as thin as possible; cut it with a sharp knife close to their edges, and bake or rather dry the tartlets slowly at the mouth of a very cool oven. If at all coloured, they should be only of the palest brown; but they will become perfectly crisp without losing their whiteness if left for some hours in a very gently-heated stove or oven. They should be taken from the pans when two thirds done, and laid, reversed, upon a sheet of paper placed on a dish or board, before they are put back into the oven. At the instant of serving, fill them with bright-coloured whipped cream, or with peach or apricot jam; if the preserve be used, lay over it a small star or other ornament cut from the same paste, and dried with the tartlets. Sifted sugar, instead of flour, must be dredged upon the board and roller in using almond paste. Leaves and flowers formed of it, and dried gradually until perfectly crisp, will keep for a long time in a tin box or canister, and they form elegant decorations for pastry. When a fluted cutter the size of the patty-pans is at hand, it will be an improvement to cut out the paste with it, and then to press it lightly into them, as it is rather apt to break when pared off with a knife.
To colour it, prepared cochineal, or spinach-green, must be added to it in the mortar.