Recipe: Marzipan for the festive season
1. Fill a pan with enough water to cover the almonds. Bring the water to a boil, turn off the heat, and soak the almonds for about five minutes.
2. Drain the water and blanch the almonds.
Growing up in a Hindu household, I first encountered marzipan as a Diwali treat, thanks to my eclectic and creative grandmother, whose love for this subtle candy lives on in me.
The word 'marzipan' seems to have come to English from German, and possibly so has the candy. However, the basic idea of marzipan is not that exotic, as it consists of little more than almonds and sugar -- not that different from kaju katli.
Unlike my grandmother, I like to add a little bourbon to the mix, which along with the sugar acts as a preservative. The recipe below will keep in the fridge for several weeks. Adding dairy products or egg will reduce the shelf life of the marzipan.
To make it pretty, you will need food colour, imagination, and time. Traditionally, marzipan is shaped like fruit, but there's nothing in the rule book that says you can't make pigs, frogs, flowers, burgers, or anything else.
3. In a food processor, grind the almonds into a coarse powder.
- Almonds - 300 g
- Powdered sugar - 225 g
- 1 tsp almond extract
- 6 tbsp bourbon or 1-2 tsp of rose water
- Food colours
- Cloves for decoration
4. Add the sugar, almond extract, and bourbon, and continue blending until the mixture turns into a firm dough. Too much almond extract will make the marzipan bitter, so add with caution.
5. Remove the dough from the food processor, and divide into segments. Add a drop of colour to each segment and work it in evenly. Add another drop if needed and repeat. Your hands will get oily from kneading the dough, so keep some kitchen towels handy. Combine colours to create new ones, e.g. red and blue make purple.
6. Roll out the marzipan with a rolling pin. Shape it by hand or with the help of a cutter. Roll the marzipan fruits lightly over a cheese grater to create the texture of a strawberry or orange. Use a toothpick to shape the strawberry leaves and make the indentations at the bottom of the orange.