When I moved to this country (Holland) a million years ago, it was a very tough time for me. The language was different which is, I think one of the many things that I kind of didn’t predict being such a big deal. It was! Months and years of smiling idiotically while people around you said things you didn’t understand felt horrible. And even today, not fully being able to express yourself in a language you have been speaking for ten years is frustrating.
And then there was the dreaded weather. My father warned me before I left that (at least) on paper it was said that Holland only had 21 days of sunshine??!! Coming from New Delhi, India which has all year round 24/7 blazing sun that might have been a problem. Except that my dad doesn’t realise what a somber little creature I am. I love the dark and I love rainy days. Bingo, at least that was a pro in my corner.
The food was so immensely different back then and barely an Indian store in sight. No Bollywood movies?? And not a friend to turn to. And no work because of my foreigner status. They were and sometimes still are very hard days.
But then come fall, there was this amazing treat in the grocery stores called ‘amandelstaaf’ which is a delicious almond paste sweet candy like thing stuffed into puff pastry. This roll (the form it usually comes in), my friends, saved me in the winter months. I honestly got fat on it!
Not unlike a strudel but we call it a staaf here which translated really means a bar or rod. It is so creamy and so crunchy. And honestly it is the easiest thing you will make. Looks gorgeous and you WILL impress your friends. I guarantee it!
I just made a slight adjustment to this classic Dutch sweet treat by adding my favourite ingredient. I needed to make it slightly Indian. And it tastes delicious… thus just a smidgen of cardamom.
You can make your own almond paste (super easy) or if you live in Holland just go buy it in the supermarket. Even easier. 🙂
- For the almond paste
- 250 grams almonds, without skin
- 250 grams sugar
- 1 egg, whisked
- 1 lemon
- ¼ tsp cardamom powder
- Sheets of puff pastry, thawed (I used 4 because at my grocery store you get these square sheets. You might however need 2 if yours are big rectangular sheets)
- 250 grams almond paste
- 1 egg, whisked
- handful of skinned almond slices for decoration
- Preheat oven to 190°C/375°F.
- To prepare the almond spice, wash the lemon and dry it. Grate the rind off and grind with the almonds till very fine, in your kitchen machine. Add the sugar and grind again till extremely fine. Squeeze the juice of the lemon and mix with the almond sugar. Add the whisked egg and mix till you get a smooth paste. Lastly add the cardamom powder.
- Put the almond spice paste in a clean box and let sit in the refrigerator for at least one hour. Overnight is better.
- On a lightly floured surface roll out your puff pastry as thin as you can.
- Take the almond spice from the refrigerator and make a roll around 1 inch thick. It needs to be shorter in width than your rolled out puff pastry sheet.
- Place the almond spice roll on the dough and fold the pastry around it, till it comes together.
- Now take both ends and bring them together forming an 'O' or a wreath. Make the ends stick by adding a little water.
- Place the wreath on a baking sheet lined by parchment paper.
- Brush the entire wreath with egg and throw on the almond slices on top.
- Bake in the oven for 30 minutes or till your wreath is nice and brown.
- Serve with tea!