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A banket is a traditional Dutch Christmas dessert often given as a gift. It is made from a log of almond paste that is rolled in pastry dough, creating a larger log. The log is baked, cooled, and wrapped for gifting, then sliced into individual servings when eaten. Bankets are often lightly glazed with apricot jam after baking and dusted with powdered sugar when they are served.
A traditional Dutch dessert, bankets originated in the Netherlands. The concept of a banket is somewhat similar to beef wellington, but rather than having beef wrapped in pastry, it is almond paste. Other names for a banket include a letterbanket, banketstaaf, or sweet almond squares. It is a common gift given for Christmas in the Netherlands. A common variation is to decorate the baked loaf with jellied cherries or almond slivers.
Almond paste is a preparation of ground almonds and sugar that is mixed with a softening agent like vegetable oil or eggs to turn it from a powder into a paste. One of several types of nut paste used in cooking, it is similar to marzipan, a common ingredient in decorative baking, but it has a higher concentration of almonds. Marzipan is generally made with a great deal more sugar than the almond paste used in a banket. Additionally, marzipan can be made from cashews in some parts of the world. Almond paste can be purchased in a store or made at home.
Pastry dough is wrapped around the almond paste to create a crispy, fluffy coating once it is baked. The basic ingredients for pastry dough include flour, water, and shortening. It is a common type of dough used in pie crusts. Pastry dough is sometimes called puff pastry.
Though they are fairly easy to make at home, bankets are generally easy to find at bakeries. The sweet dessert is common during the holiday season, so it is not difficult to buy one if the timing is right. Bakeries, particularly Dutch bakeries, often begin selling bankets when the weather turns cold before Christmas. These desserts can also be custom ordered from many bakeries.
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