About the Recipe
Emblematic from Spain is our treasured marzipan. We acquired the centuries old skill from the nuns of the convents of Toledo, handcrafting freshly ground almonds with sugar syrup into orange blossom scented masapan. Marzipan filled with lemon fondant pastel reale and gizadas de masapan, macaroon star-shaped marzipan pastries, were part of an impressive marzipan platter offered at lavish celebrations.
500g (1lb 2oz) blanched almonds
21⁄4 cups warm water 21⁄4 cups sugar 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
For shaping: mix 1 cup water and 1 tsp orange blossom water in a small bowl
For decorating: silver balls (dragées)
You will need:
fluted moulds about 4cm (11⁄2in) in diameter
Grind the almonds, a small batch at a time, in a food processor, until finely ground. Pulse, using the on-off action, to control that it does not grind to an oily paste. Put the warm water and sugar into a large, heavy-based stainless-steel pan over a low heat. To avoid crystallisation, ensure that the sugar is completely dissolved before the syrup comes to a boil. Bring the syrup to a boil over a high heat, without stirring. As the sugar becomes more concentrated the syrup will feel tacky and a short thread, about 1.5cm (1⁄2in) in length, will form between your wetted finger and thumb when they are pulled apart. This takes about 15-20 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat, add the ground almonds and lemon juice, stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon. Return to a low heat and continue stirring constantly for about 12 minutes or until the paste comes away from the sides of the pan. Be sure to stir continuously so that the mixture does not stick to the bottom of the pan or scorch. To test if the marzipan is ready, roll a small amount of the mixture, the size of a small marble, between your palms. If it stays in a ball and does not stick to your hands, remove from the heat. Beat the marzipan over a medium speed in the bowl of a free-standing mixer for 2 minutes.
Shape the marzipan: Dampen your hands in the scented water and roll the paste into ropes about 2.5cm (1in) thick. Cut into 3.5cm (11⁄2in) diagonal sections and decorate with a silver ball in the centre. Alternatively roll into 2.5cm (1in) balls and press into the moulds. Tap it out of the mould and place on a tray and decorate with a silver ball. Makes 50.