Almonds are versatile nuts that are often used in recipes or simply eaten raw. They can also be used to create different pastes and butters for cooking and baking. Two such include paste and butter varieties and we’ll delve deeper into almond paste vs almond butter in this article. Although they may seem like close relatives, they are actually very different ingredients.
Almond Paste vs Almond Butter
Almond butter is made from crushing almonds into a smooth consistency similar to peanut butter. It has a definite almond flavor, and can be used in many of the same ways as peanut butter is used. Almond butter can provide an alternative to the typical peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Heating it lends itself to a creamy sauce that can easily top ice cream, or be used as a dip for fruit. It is a great way to add extra healthy protein and fats to one’s diet.
Almond butter melts easily due to the high oil content. Therefore, this does not make it an ideal candidate for high heat recipes or for being a substitute for almond paste, which is vastly different.
Almond butter can also be easily made at home. Taking almonds and placing them in a blender yields a creamy result. This butter can be spread on anything. The consistency can also be controlled if a crunchier or courser texture is desired. Roasting the nuts before blending also brings out their natural, nutty flavor. This occurs when they are heated in a dry sauce pan until just toasted, being careful not to burn them as they can burn quickly.
Almond paste is a much sweeter ingredient. The paste is made from almonds, but also oil and sugar. The almonds are usually blanched, meaning their skins are taken off in a hot water bath. The paste has a stiff texture that makes it great to use in baked goods. The texture holds up against high heat, making it a better choice than almond butter for cooking.
Almond paste is often used in pastries from many different countries. In Sweden, it is used in cookies, and in France it is used as a filling for croissants. In America, it is a staple in the ‘bear claw’ pastry. There is a mild almond flavor present since the paste is sweetened with sugar.
The paste can be made at home, but is much more involved than almond butter. It requires many more ingredients including egg whites and sugar. Marzipan is a form of almond paste, but contains a significant amount more sugar. Therefore, take heed if attempting substitutions. Marzipan is used more for molding and candy making. It is often used to replicate fruit, and create other visually stunning confections.
Although both almond paste and almond butter are delicious edibles, they are used for different purposes and cannot be used interchangeably.