Advent Calendars are popular here; almost everyone I know has a countdown calendar for Christmas with a “door” on each day that can be opened to find a piece of chocolate or small gift. At my school, the teachers decided that each person would bring a treat each day instead of having a physical calendar in the teacher’s lounge. My favorite was a plateful of Fruits Cachés with Pâte d’amande. I couldn’t resist these sliced prunes and dates filled with a sweet almond paste! The teacher who made them noticed my excitement and was nice enough to pass me the recipe.
Here is the recipe for two cups of paste:
1 cup of almond powder
1 cup of confectioners’ sugar
2 egg whites
Amaretto (Italian almond liqueur) or Kirsch (cherry liqueur)
1. Mix the almond flour and the confectioners’ sugar very well in a bowl.
2. In a second bowl, whip the egg whites with a fork until smooth and consistent, then add 2 tablespoons of the Amaretto or Kirsch.
3. Add a third of the egg white-liqueur mix to the almond flour-confectioners’ mix, mixing it together with the fingertips. Add the rest little by little to obtain a thick and consistent paste.
4. If color is desired, add a few drops of food coloring.
5. Shape the paste into little balls and leave it in the refrigerator for at least 3 days.
6. Slit open one side of each date and prune and fill with the paste.
*The Amaretto flavor works best with dates, the Kirsch flavor works best with the prunes.