Bitter almonds?

I've been going through my mother's old recipes and found one for a cake, apparently from her aunt, which contains a relatively small quantity of bitter almonds along with the regular almonds. I know I could just substitute regular almonds for the entire cake and perhaps put in a splash of a bitter liqueur along with it, but I'm wondering if anyone knows where I might find bitter almonds? When I googled it I found lots of literary references to them, but no actual sources for the almonds themselves.

  • Posted by: lbgirl
  • March 19, 2011
  • 5094 views
  • 3 Comments

3 Comments

Review our Code of Conduct
Don't send me emails about new comments
Queen of Spoons
Queen of Spoons March 19, 2011

I don't know what they are exactly, but they make me think of a Sherlock Holmesian thing. They always say that people poisoned with cyanide have breath that 'smells of bitter almonds'. Can't say that I'd know what it smelled like anyway!

Review our Code of Conduct
Don't send me emails about new comments
littleknitter
littleknitter March 19, 2011

If you're in Europe you might be in luck, but here in the US it's actually illegal to sell bitter almonds because they have hydrocyanic acid which makes them poisonous. In Europe, you can buy small amounts for baking. If you buy pure almond extract, that's derived from bitter almonds. The hydrocyanic acid breaks down with cooking, so it's ok to eat in that form, but you should never eat raw bitter almonds.

Review our Code of Conduct
Don't send me emails about new comments
lbgirl
lbgirl March 19, 2011

@QueenofSpoons: I've also often heard that cyanide smells of bitter almonds. @littleknitter - thanks. That answers the question perfectly. Maybe I'll put in a drop or two of extract when I try the cake.

Review our Code of Conduct
Don't send me emails about new comments
Showing 3 out of 3 Comments Back to top
Recommended by Food52