Monday, 12 April 2010

Homemade Marzipan

If peanut butter comes in two levels of chunky, why shouldn't marzipan? Unfortunately, the chunky kind of marzipan only exists in my household for now (for which thing I must thank my unprofessional food processor). The sophisticated, bittersweet taste of this dessert shouldn't lead you into thinking only the finest french chefs can delight their friends, relatives and customers with this all-season delight (although serving it as a Christmas snack is more than welcome, alongside a letter to Santy)

-Interlude: it is now time. The Santa reference really got me in the mood for Christmas. Yes, I start early, as early as the first wind of autumn. So hang on while I pop a blissful CD of carols in and start building up my enthusiasm for the winter holidays -

I never use an exact amount of ingredients for this recipe because it is so versatile you can easily mend your mistakes, if there should be any. So try playing around wih the consistency, taste it every once in a while, and see if you prefer it moist or crunchy. Personally, I like the crunchier version, because it allows you to shape it into a flat, filo pastry like shape, and use christmassy cookie cutters to give your whole dessert a way more edible look. You can even use kinky cookie cutters, I won't mind, but more about refining the marzipan after the paragraphs depicting the actual recipe. For that,

You will need:

a fistful of raw almonds
about the same quantity of confectioner's sugar
a few drops of vanilla essence
one egg white (or less)
optional, food colouring
also optional, jam or ganache for filling

Like me, you will probably have to make your own almond meal, as there is no such thing available on the market. Same thing applies to half&half and other ingredients I need in order to make some bloody cookies :D. Good thing I'm moving to England next month; with a little luck I will never have to produce my own dairy products ever again! But panic not, it only takes a little extra time and effort to obtain some chunkily ground almonds. Simply buy uncooked almonds, blanch them quickly (for a minute or two), and then gently *squeeze* the seeds, one by one, so that you have a nice bunch of skinless, button-nosed almonds (butt-naked, as the ones found in coconut candies). When done, use a food processor to grind them as finely as possible (although I hear from friends, family and potential future customers using perfectly powdered almond meal isn't mandatory. So this way I accidentally added a nice twist to the recipe.)

Now that you possess the most important ingredient, combine it with roughly the same amount of powdered sugar. You will notice a slight change of colour. And by that I mean a pleasant discoloration. Add a few drops of vanilla extract. You can substitute it with almond extract in order to enhance the flavour. Leave the mixture aside in a bowl so you can crack and separate a fresh egg. You don't need to bring it to room temperature, refrigerated eggs will do just as fine. Now.. if you just happen to add a little too much egg white to the mixture (like I did.. quite a few times), don't panic. Wrap everything up in a little cling film or aluminum foil and let it sit in the fridge for half an hour. You'll see that when the time has elapsed, the consistency will be close to perfection. All it needs is a little pat on the back and it will be all gud. Flatten it with a rolling pin, cut out cute shapes, dust with a little powdered sugar and set on a plate. Now pig out. (om nom nom)

As an alternative way of serving, you can assemble two such marzipan cookies as you would a spritz cookie. Say you have two flowed-shaped marzipan servings. Cut out the centre of either of them, eat it, and sprinkle sugar on the remaining petals. Spread some jam or ganache on the other flower, and set the sugared one on top of the jammied one. I used rose jam for my stacked goodies and the flavours matched perfectly. You can also cover cakes with the resulting marzipan, and mix a part of it with some powdered cocoa for a lovely change of colour and taste. It won't be as easy as it looks on the telly, but when you're short of cake topping inspiration, this is sure to come in handy. Enjoy responsibly XD



P.S.: Did anyone notice the motto change?

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