For a delicious contrast, serve these puddings alongside chewy strips of candied lemon peel, available at gourmet shops and specialty candy stores.
Photography: Jim Franco
Source: Martha Stewart Weddings, Winter 2001
In a food processor, pulse almonds until coarsely ground, about 1 minute. Gradually add 1 cup half-and-half; process until a smooth paste forms, scraping down sides halfway through.
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine sugar, remaining 5 cups half-and-half, and lemon zest. Bring to a boil, and remove from heat; add the almond extract, and gradually whisk in reserved almond paste. Let cool completely. Transfer to an airtight container, and refrigerate overnight.
Line a fine-mesh sieve with two layers of cheesecloth dampened with water; place over an 8-cup glass measuring cup. Pour chilled almond milk through sieve; using a ladle, firmly press milk through cheesecloth to yield 6 cups. If the yield is less than 6 cups, add more half-and-half.
Prepare a large ice-water bath; set aside. Transfer 1 cup cold almond milk to a small bowl; sprinkle gelatin over top, and let soften, about 5 minutes. In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, bring remaining almond milk to a boil; reduce heat, stir in gelatin mixture, and stir until gelatin is dissolved, about 2 minutes. Set pan in ice-water bath; stir mixture occasionally until cool, about 15 minutes.
In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the whisk, beat cream until soft peaks form. Whisk 1/3 of the whipped cream into the almond milk; fold in remaining whipped cream. Pour about 1/2 cup into each of 36 blancmange molds; gently tap molds on a hard surface to release any trapped air. Wipe rims with a clean towel; let cool completely. Refrigerate overnight.
To unmold blancmanges, dip each mold in hot tap water, 3 to 4 seconds. Invert mold, and tap it firmly on a work surface. Remove, and place each blancmange on a ginger cookie.