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?

Marzipan Candy

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!


NV said...

I love the holidays. Yes, dear, that's LOVE. The lights and other decos, all the celebrations, the occasional glimpses of humanity in people I would never otherwise have believed possessed such a thing ... these are what help make easing into that December to April time frame we call WINTER even remotely tolerable.

And of course all the Yorkie cards. What's better than photos of a bunch of unrealistically cute little dogs on the mantle?!
(Which I have yet to send because I suck.)

Anonymous said...

Oh, honey, I feel your pain. I'm not much filled with the spirit this year but remember, this too shall pass.

On the plus side? We all have an iron-clad excuse to EAT LIKE PIGS. And with that in mind, please send one ton of marizpan my way STAT. Thank you!!!!!

Brittany said...

Yeah, I have to say that I do love the holidays.

However, my husbands mother died on Christmas day several years back- so I know how it feels to have it me a painful time as well.

Now it's bittersweet. We miss her, but also totally get into the christmas movies and cookies and stuff.

And by the way- I freakin love marzipan and nobody ever makes it. Like EVAR. Thank you for doing so. they are lovely and I want to eat my computer screen.

MonkeyGirl said...

You have my permission to buy totally useless gifts for those in the office. One of the best guys I know bought someone a gift certificate for one 2X4 from the hardware store. Listening to his story about trying to purchase the GC for the precise amount was hysterical!

Anonymous said...

Finally, a soul brave enough to say "bah, humbug" in multiple paragraphs, bringing tidings of her own personal kind of joy to the world! The best part of Christmas is the first week in January...even in Minnesota. I embrace and applaud your Grinchness and proudly stand beside you!

Anonymous said...

These are darling. And they look fairly easy, fairly. May have to try these as my Mom loves Marzipan.

I am so-so on the holidays. I think its overly stressful and too commercial. I'm so sorry you lost your Mom so young.

Gigi said...

Freaking adorable marizpan candy! You know, I can take or leave Christmas. I guess it depends on what I have going on during the end of the year. If I am really busy with work or school it becomes just another day. But kudos for being honest and sharing this awesome candy recipe!

hungryandfrozen said...

Sorry to hear this isn't a great time of year for you, you certainly have reason enough. I'm pretty stressed and could do with at least another week between me and the dreaded day, it was so much easier when I was younger and just wanted Barbie dolls! That marzipan not only looks gorgeous (love the colours) it looks damn impressive too!

Anonymous said...

as much as you hate the hols, i'm real glad you made this because they are just gorgeous. sorry to hear about your mum. christmases are a sticky issue with me as well but every year i just hope to God it gets better. I mean, if you've hit rock bottom before, anything else can only go up rather than down. lots of love, ann! and a merry christmas to you. xxx

grace said...

first of all, i'm totally gonna start handing out blank gift cards to people i don't like. what a great idea.
secondly, i'm extremely impressed by your candy. grinch sminch. :)

Jennifer S said...

I'm with you on this. Hate the holidays. No, that's not too strong a word.

Hang in there. I'd start making naughty marzipan shapes just to amuse yourself. Can't hurt.

Real Live Lesbian said...

You'd HATE me! I *love* the holidays.

Jingle all the way, baby!

Your marzipan is positively precious!!!!

Anonymous said...

I love marzipan! I hate the holidays! I could so "holiday" with you, girl. Great pictures.

Anonymous said...

I love marzipan! I hate the holidays! I could so "holiday" with you, girl. Great pictures.

John D. said...

You are a true artist Ann. : ) I can just tell that everything you do is done with such mindfulness and care. I'm sorry that Christmas holds a painful memory for you. The holidays do evoke some degree of lamenting for most people I think.

I do wish you a Merry Christmas Anne. : )

Nic said...

Those are so cute, but I can't stand marzipan! And I only like Xmas when everything is done, all the shopping, wrapping etc. We haven't even got our tree up yet.

Anonymous said...

Honestly I've never tried these, but I like almond so I'm thinking I must be missing out on greatness. They're really cute. I like the holidays, but hate all the stress; I think it is the most stressful time of year and don't think it should be. All the presents drive me nuts, it's too much. The meaning of the holiday would be more if we would buy less, I think.

Lisa said...

Hey you made marzipan! How great is that? these are cute cute cute, and I totally agree with little fruit shapes or whatever else floats your boat!
Sorry about your mom - man, that still feels like it's pretty sharp.
You know, whether a person is into Christmas or not, it is a food and eating time that cannot be equaled. At least here in the northwest we get to wear fleece and bulky sweaters to hide the holiday pounds! Take care!

flutter said...

You and me both, babe. You and me both

Anonymous said...

Thank you for admitting your grinchness. I will join that club.

diva said...

ann..just thought i'd stop by again to say how touched i am by your comment on my blog. you're the best!! :) lots of love, honey..and marzipan all around. x

Leslie said...

Unfortunatly I have to be in the Christmas Cheer for my young kiddos!
My I could understand your dislike for the Holidays, if it brings up such painful memories!

Adam said...

And I thought I was the only one to make black sugar cookies :)

Great job on the marizan candy, being all festive and all... but I'll admit it's kinda my 'childhood green veggie' of desserts. They are just too wicked sweet for me.

I can't disagree that your co-workers and friends devoured them though :)

vanillasugarblog said...

I'm not a huge fan of the holidays either..for almost all the same reasons. I do love to exchange gifts with those closest to me. I wonder if I would have the patience to do the cutouts of the crazy marzipan? Yours came out wicked! (yes, I'm from Mass, and we say wicked! LOL...I crack myself up)

Pearl said...

oh those are SO adorable!

Clumbsy Cookie said...

Look at you all "holiday spirited"! I hear you on the holiday stress. I used to LOVE Christmas when I was a tiny self, but now it's just ok. I try to get in the spirit though... but not so much as to make marzipan, lol!

Anonymous said...

Alright, seriously, you are way too funny. I've been cracking up reading through your Twitterstream, and your blogs are just expanded hilarity.

You definitely have a new fan!