I use to work at a French restaurant that made almond croissants from our day old croissants. The almond croissants were delicious. I would always grab one for myself to eat later in my shift because we made a limited amount every day.
The main ingredient was the almond paste. We didn't make the almond paste in house. It came in an industrial sized bucket and was scooped out by the night pastry guy as needed.
I love almond paste because depending on what you do with it, it can give you two textures. Used as a filling for the croissants, it stayed soft, gooey and sweet. Spread on top of the croissant it added a crisp crackly crust after a few minutes in the oven.
After reviewing the recipes, I decided on powdered sugar vs granulated sugar so the filling would be less grainy. I also used butter to make the mixture more soft and pliable. One complaint about store-bought almond pastes is that they are too dry and brittle.
I like lots of almond extract but you can lower the dosage according to your tastes. Don't be cheap here with dollar store extract.
Side note: Why does Barefoot Contessa always say use a "good extract" or a "good chocolate" or a "good fill-in-the-blank food item?" Can you just tell us what brand you use?
Ok. Now that I got that out of my system I use Watkins extracts as well as Penzys extracts. I find that in both brands are very high quality and don't have an alcohol-y aftertaste like some cheap-o brands. A little goes a long way in most recipes.
The biggest time saving tip is that you should start out with almond meal or almond flour. Just make sure you buy blanched almond meal/flour. It's the one that doesn't have flecks from the brown skin of the almond. You can blanch and skin your own almonds if you want to. After skinning the almonds, you can grind them into flour yourself but almond skinning is a time consuming process. You've been warned.
Almond Paste Ingredients
2 cups almond meal
2 cups powdered sugar
2 egg whites
4 Tablespoons butter, softned
1 Tablespoon almond extract
Almond Paste Directions
1.) Put everything into a medium mixing bowl and using a handheld blender, start mixing on low speed until the powdered sugar is incorporated. Increase the speed to medium until the mixture is light and fluffy.
2.) Store is a tightly sealed jar for up to 1 week. If you know you won't use all of the mixture within a week, wrap it, label it and freeze it.