Yesterday was Squirrel’s 2nd birthday. I’m still in shock that she is already that old! Where have the past two years gone? The foodie world helped celebrate her birthday by having Michelin release its selection of recommended hotels and restaurants in the MICHELIN guide Tokyo 2009 (Squirrel was born in Tokyo). Tokyo is now tied with Paris for the number of three-star eateries! We celebrated here by having a little birthday soiree at Chuck E. Cheese’s with my parents and FIL who has been in town visiting. Fine dining at its best, let me tell you!
Speaking of epicurean delights, I have had a bag of almond meal sitting on my counter from Oh! Nuts (k, that’s got to be the funniest company name on the planet!) begging to be made into something for the past week. I’ve been avoiding eye contact until I woke up the other morning with an intense craving for marzipan. I LOVE marzipan and have always associated it with the holidays. So, I was finally able to look that almond meal in the eye and tell it I had a way for it to be useful! One of my favorite holiday treats is chocolate covered marzipan. I decided to make a homemade version of my favorite chocolate marzipan log to satisfy my craving.
I used the almond meal to make homemade marzipan, leaving the meal slightly coarse to give my marzipan a bit more texture. I then rolled the marzipan into little balls and stuck them in the refrigerator for a bit.
Then I melted some chocolate, dipped the balls in it, and garnished them with sliced almonds and little bits of candied orange peel. Easy peasy lemon squeazy! The result was nummy. I liked having the balls be bite-sized as the chocolate to marzipan ratio was higher than with the log. If you are feeling lazy, you can also buy marzipan already made for you at the grocery store and skip straight to the ball rolling part. But if you’ve never made your own marzipan before, why not try it?
1. Prepare a workspace by sprinkling powdered sugar over a marble slab, wooden cutting board, or large baking sheet. Fill your sink or a large bowl with cold water.
2. Place the sugar and 2/3 cup water in a large heavy saucepan and heat gently, stirring, until the sugar dissolves.
3. Add the cream of tartar and turn up the heat. Bring to a boil and cover, boiling, for 3 minutes.
4. Uncover and boil until the temperature reaches soft-ball stage, 240 degrees on a candy thermometer.
5. Place the bottom of the saucepan in the cold water you’ve prepared, stirring the sugar mixture constantly until it becomes thick and creamy. (This step can be a bit problematic because if you let it get too thick and creamy, then it will just harden when you go to the next step, so don’t wait too long!)
6. Stir in the ground almonds and the egg whites, then place back over low heat and stir for 2 minutes more until the mixture is thick.
7. Spoon the marzipan onto your prepared work surface, and turn it with a metal spatula until it cools down enough to touch.
8. Coat your hands in powdered sugar and begin to knead the marzipan, working it until it is smooth and pliant.
9. Your marzipan can now be used immediately or stored by wrapping it in plastic wrap and keeping it in an airtight container.
Making the balls
1 recipe marzipan (above)
2 c. semisweet chocolate, chopped
garnishes of your choice (I used sliced almonds and bits of candied orange peel on mine)
1. Use a metal teaspoon, or the smaller end of a melon baller, to scoop a spoonful of mixture. Use your hands to roll the mixture into a small ball and place it on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Place rolled balls in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.
2. When the balls are ready to be dipped, melt the chocolate in double boiler or microwave.
3. Place a marzipan ball in the chocolate and use a teaspoon to spoon chocolate over it to coat. Use a wide-pronged fork to lift the coated ball from the chocolate, tapping the fork handle gently on the edge of the bowl to shake off any excess. Use the tip of a small spatula to ease the ball off the fork onto lined baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining balls and chocolate. (Replace your fork with a clean dry one if too much chocolate builds up on it.) During dipping, use a spatula to occasionally scrape chocolate from the side of the bowl, so it doesn’t set.
4. When the balls have been dipped add garnish (if using). Set balls aside at room temperature until set. Coming Friday: One Good Loaf–Stollen Expectations