Easter almond paste lamb

I have never really loved almond paste. And this said by a Sicilian girl sounds like heresy. But there was something in the one my grandma used to make, a special taste that made it unique and delicious. I was too young to understand that the secret ingredient was not available on the market. Yet she had tons of it, which she used to share with all of her grandchildren. In Easter time, her great love used to take the sweet aspect of a lamb. Contained in a fence as to not let it run away, with the reassuring look of that wholehearted certainty in which me, my brothers and my cousins could always rely on.

With the goal of moving my mum to tears, this year I decided to bring the tradition back, that since a few years has been buried under the memories. Grandma’s recipe has unfortunately got lost in the ephemeral destiny of unwritten words. The one I suggest you was taken from a book of Sicilian cuisine, taken years ago as a supplement of the newspaper “Giornale di Sicilia”. I didn’t make it on time to inherit the decoration ability, so I tried to manage the thing instinctively. The aesthetic result is absolutely questionable, considering I have only found yellow and red colorants. Despite its jaundiced aspect, though, the taste was really appreciated. Who knows if I didn’t gain the same, great resources of secret ingredient that my grandma owned.

Ingredients for per 1 lamb
– almond flour, 250g
– icing sugar, 250g
– water, 1/2dl
– bitter almond essence, a few drops
– cinnamon
– vanillin
– food colouring in powder, brown and red

Put water and sugar in a pot and, after having stirred, heat it up at a low flame. Cook and stir for about 10 minutes. Remove from fire, add a few drops of bitter almond flavouring essence, a pinch of cinnamon and vanillin. Add the almond flour and stir well with a wooden spoon, until you get a dough. Help yourself with your hands if it is necessary. As
soon as you get a “ball”, put it over a chopping board covered with cling film. Knead the dough until smooth and compact. If it is too dry, just rinse your hands quickly under tap water and knead again. Once ready, make a fat sausage out of it and press it over the lamb-shaped mould. Close with the other half of the mould and press well. With a knife, remove any almond paste in excess from the bottom. Delicately detach the lamb and put it aside to dry for 24 hours. The day after, dissolve the colours in a little water and, with a thin brush,
paint over the wool and trace the face features of the lamb. Let dry for another 24 hours, then place the lamb in an enclosure. Decorate with an Easter flag on the back, a ribbon on the neck and a few chocolate eggs all around.

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