Regardless of all kinds of chauvinistic feelings, as a Dutchi, I simply have to admit that Dutch cooking more or less comes down to Dutch snacking (well that, and the incorporated Belgium and French influences around dinner time). All things I associate with Dutch cuisine come down to deep-fried nibbles, cheese and sweet baked goods.
It makes me smile to realise that entertaining and party food are high on the agenda here in the lowlands. It is all about maintaining the right priorities.:)
And sure, here in the midst of moving to Germany (!), I am finding myself holding on to all things that seem to be the epitome of Dutchness. Next to buying (read: hoarding) cheese and cycles (yeah baby!), I might have gotten a little sentimental when I saw these cookies at the bakery.
These almond cookies are a classic and calling them cookies already feels like an understatement. Proper Dutch would dictate that they are called Weesper Mopjes, which more or less translates into sweethearts from Amsterdam (awww!).
Preparing the almond paste will take some time, simply because it needs time to mature. Other than that, this all comes together really quickly.
I have found that the same product gets called Marzipan Rohmasse, almond paste or mandelmasse in other countries.
This paste needs two weeks to mature.
- 100 grams of ground almonds (the usual advise is to peel them, but I usually skip this step, as the difference is only optical, as the paste turns a little less bright with the skins ground in)
- 100 gram granulated sugar
- 1 egg
- zest of one lemon
For the paste, simply mix together the ground almonds (either skinned by blanching and squeezing them out of their skins, or unskinned, as I did), the sugar, lemon zest and egg.
Mix it with a spatula in a bowl. In case the mixture feels to dry, simply add another egg.
The amount of sugar makes sure that the mixture won’t turn bad in the fridge.
Put the paste into a pot that you can close, and put it in the fridge to mature. As said, opinions differ on what is the perfect maturing time. I like mine most after at least two weeks (which also means that I would be happy to eat it after six weeks).
Opinions differ on the amount of time that the paste needs to ripen, I usually give it two weeks at least, whereas my father likes it more after six weeks. A lot of well-respected authors call for a ripening time of two to three days. Just try out and see what is up to your liking to find your signature almond paste, I like mine well-matured and heavy on the lemon zest for example.
In any case, just give it a bit of time to mature and all tastes to develop, with a minimum of 3 days.
Almond Cookies (Weesper Mopjes)
- Almond Paste made of 100 grams of almonds
- 100 grams of sugar
- 1 egg
- 75 grams of flaked almonds
To make these cookies, turn to your almond paste.
Simply add another 100 grams of sugar, another egg and mix all together.
The dough will be sticky and soft, which is great because it will turn into a super awesome chewy cookie.
Put the flaked almonds on a piece of baking paper (alternatively you can use granulated sugar, it is mostly meant to prevent the dough from sticking to the paper and to be able to shape it) and place the almond dough on it to form a roll. Close the baking paper and let it firm up a little in the fridge (for as much time as you have, but at least 45 minutes).
Open the baking paper and slice the roll into thick coins, of around 2 centimeters thick. Place these on a baking paper and bake for 10-15 minutes in a medium hot oven, at 180 degrees Celsius.
Keep a very close eye, as these burn easily. Let them cool down to firm up and develop their texture. Enjoy and consider yourself a Dutchi. 😉