1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups blanched almonds
2 T brandy or sherry (or more, as needed)
Lemon juice can be substituted for the brandy, but the flavor
will not be the same.
If you do this, you should use the almond extract.
1 extra large egg
1 tsp almond or ratafia extract (optional)
Set blender running and slowly add almonds, about half a cup at
a time. As they form a stiff paste in the bottom of the blender,
stop and scrape them out into a bowl and continue until all the
almonds are ground and in the bowl.
They should be as fine as fine breadcrumbs. Break up any stiff
mass that has formed, and add the sugar. Rub the mixture through
your hands, or with a pastry blender until uniform. Remove any
large pieces of unground almond.
Then sift in the confectioner's sugar and stir well .
In another bowl beat the egg with the brandy and add the almond
extract if used. Set the bowl over a pan of hot water, or cook
in a double boiler, beating until the custard thickens slightly.
Pour the custard onto the almond mixture in the bowl, and work
the two together.
It may take a little time for the sugar to dissolve and the oils
in the almonds to emerge, so that the whole can be worked into
a smooth workable paste. If there really is not enough liquid,
you can add more brandy. It should mould easily. If it is too
soft to form a ball, you can add more almonds and sugar. It is
important at this point to wrap the ball of marzipan tightly in
wax paper or cling film to stop it drying out. Marzipan can be
rolled out, using confectioner's sugar on the board and rolling
pin, to stop it sticking. It can be modelled into fruits or animals,
which can be painted with food colouring. If the finished models
are brushed with eggwhite, they will not dry out. They can be
hung with ribbons on the Christmas tree, or served as petit fours
after a meal. Alternatively, marzipan can be rolled into a circle
and used as a topping for cakes. (The traditional British Easter
cake, called a Simnel Cake, is a light, lemony fruit cake, flavored
with candied orange and lemon peel. A layer of marzipan is placed
in the baking pan after half the batter has been poured in, and
is baked in the cake, forming a sort of built-in sticky-gooey
filling half way up the baked cake.
When the cake has cooled, then the rest of the marzipan is used
to "ice" the cake, and marzipan chickens, eggs and nests
are glued to the cake with eggwhite or sugar syrup. The whole
is then browned under the broiler.)
For the traditional English Christmas cake, a circle of marzipan
is glued to the top of a moist plumcake with apricot jam. Sometimes
the sides of the cake were marzipaned, too. The cake was then
usually covered with a layer of white icing and decorated with
small santas, fir trees, snow babies, etc.. Sometimes, though,
the marzipan was simply topped with a few marzipan fruits, whole
almonds, etc, brushed with a sugar syrup glaze, and browned lightly
under the broiler.
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