Monday, December 15, 2008
Mama Grinch Makes Marzipan
I'll admit it, I'm not a fan of the holidays. Make that NOT. In caps. In fact, I almost despise the holidays; there, I said it. I almost feel like I just committed a mortal sin, like I should recite 10 Hail Marys to absolve myself for admitting, in public, that I'm related to the Grinch. Sorry kids. I don't know the Hail Mary.
I'm not sure where it comes from, wholly. I suppose a large part of it is that the older I became, it seemed the stress of the holidays increased proportionately, until it no longer felt worthy of the price attached. More than that though, every year I cannot help but think of the last Christmas we spent with my Mom, when I was 20; we all fully knew it would be her last holiday with us - and Christmas was HER holiday. It was painful and poignant and heavy and sweet and horrid; she died four months later. I didn't want any more Christmases after that; I was done.
Still, the rest of the world just will NOT bend to my will - darn miscreants. So, I try to perform little bursts of holiday spirit here and there. For example, I like to sprinkle co-workers' officechair-seats with powdered sugar, to resemble snow. I like giving giftcards that have no monetary value. I like covering all of my Christmas cookies in black frosting. Okay no! I'm just fantasizing. Throwing myself a bone.
Now really, I do participate as best I can. Because we have the office holiday-party at our house, it motivates me to decorate a bit - mostly just a bunch of white string-lights and a teensy tree. And I buy gifts for my nieces and nephew (I love you Ellery and Ari, Grace and Emma, Peyton and Alex!!!); I mean, I'm not heartless (yet). And, Tony and me usually cook a really great meal together over the holiday, which we rarely have time for because he has such a real job. So see? A smattering of holidayness, a smidge. A dusting.
This past weekend, I got it into my head that I ought to try my hand at Marzipan Candy - something you often see more of around the holidays. Why not, thought I? Look at me all embracing the season, pondered Moi. SO impressed by my bad holiday self, exclaimed Thyself.
Oh enough of the internal dialogue...just read on for the Marzipan, if you so desire. Am I the only Grinch here? Do you love the holidays? Tolerate them? Wish you could time-warp past them? What say THEE?
Okay, this recipe looked SO easy, SUCH a breeze! Well, let me warn you - there may be a few times during this recipe where you may think to yourself "Self, this effing sucks it all" - and wonder if you should proceed or chuck the mess in with the rubbish. Of course, it could just be my happy-go-lucky seasonal personality there, no? Nah. The deal is - this dough can be very sticky and difficult to work with. Besides that though, it really IS a simple recipe - and the resulting Marzipan Candy is quite delicious, if you like Marzipan. And many don't. And I still like you for it. What does Marzipan taste like, you ask? Well, it has a definite almond flavor, is sweet (but not cloying), and has a kind of grainy texture.
8 oz. almond paste
2 c. powdered sugar (+ more for rolling out)
1/4 c. corn syrup
food coloring (any color)
Over a medium bowl, break almond paste into small pieces. Add 1 c. of the sugar and work it in with your hands until mixture is crumbly. Add another 3/4 c. sugar and work in very well. Add corn syrup and work until completely incorporated (very sticky here; tried pastry cutter, didn't work). Sprinkle remaining sugar on a work surface and knead the dough until uniform, up to 5 minutes. If dough seems overly sticky, knead in more sugar. Form dough into disc, cover in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for an hour.
Sprinkle a work surface with powdered sugar. To color the dough, break off a palm-size piece of dough, add 2-3 drops and knead in the color until consistent; add more color if needed. Then, blend the colored dough into the larger portion you'd like to use for that color and knead until consistent. Continue to add sugar as needed to keep dough from sticking to surface.
Dust surface with sugar and roll out dough to 1/4-inch thick. Cut into desired shapes (free form cutting or using small cookie cutters) and place on wax paper. You can also hand-shape into "Marzipan Fruits" (apples, bananas etc.) or wreaths or candy canes or whatever; cooking stores often sell Marzipan molds as well. Allow to sit out for 24 hours, to dry. If the candies have extra powdered sugar on their surface after working with them, use a scantly moistened paintbrush or tiny cloth to remove sugar. The amount will depend on what shapes/sizes you make; I ended up with about 40 little candies - about 1.5-inch size. ENJOY!