An almond-flavored liqueur, amaretto originated in Saronno, Italy, in the 16th century. Its elusive almond flavor is derived from crushed apricot pits. Almonds and apricots are members of the same plant family, and apricot pits have a flavor reminiscent of almonds. Amaretto retains its character in the heat of the oven, making it a perfect flavoring ingredient for baking, especially when used to complement the flavor of almonds. Brandy can be substituted for the amaretto in this recipe.
- 3/4 cup slivered blanched almonds
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for sprinkling
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1/2 tsp. ground mace
- 1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 8 Tbs. (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus 2 Tbs., melted
- 1/2 lb. cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1 egg
- 2 Tbs. amaretto
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp. almond extract
- 1/2 cup golden raisins
- 1/2 cup finely chopped dried apricots
- 1/2 cup dried tart cherries
- Confectioners’ sugar for dusting
Preheat an oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a food processor, combine the almonds and 1 cup of the flour. Process to make a fine meal. In a bowl, combine the almond mixture with the remaining flour and the granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda, mace, nutmeg and salt.
In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat together the butter and cream cheese on medium speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the egg, amaretto, vanilla and almond extract and beat until smooth. Reduce the speed to low and beat in the raisins, apricots and cherries. Beat in the dry ingredients, 1/2 cup at a time, until a stiff batter forms, about 2 minutes.
Turn the batter out onto a floured board and gently knead a few times to make a cohesive dough. Transfer the dough to the prepared baking sheet. Pat into a thick oval about 10 inches long and 8 inches wide. Make a crease down the center of the oval with a chopstick or the blunt edge of a knife and, without stretching, gently fold the long side over to within 3/4 inch of the opposite edge, forming a long, narrow loaf with tapered ends. Press the top edge lightly to seal.
Bake until the stollen is lightly browned and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and brush the stolen lightly with the melted butter. Dust with confectioners’ sugar. Let cool completely on the baking sheet. Dust the stollen again with confectioners’ sugar just before serving. Makes 1 large loaf.
Adapted from The Williams-Sonoma Baking Book, Edited by Chuck Williams (Oxmoor House, 2009).