Monday, January 12, 2009
I Thought I Was French
My ancestry is chock full of French-ness. And, I admit to being a bit of a francophile. There are no medications for it, so please don't slay me over it. Even worse, right now I'm reading "Marie Antoinette: The Journey" and cannot get enough of it. It's really an illness. I've been cussing in French for weeks now - and all of it sounds so much more delicious in French, really! I feel so delicate tossing out f-bombs in francaise. Mais bien sur!
With this book I'm reading, I find myself fantasizing about wearing all those poufy dresses and wigs and hats. And then I realize I'm wearing flannel pajama pants. I wonder if I'd have been a good duchess or countess. And then I remember that I cringe when someone says "Miss" or "Ma'am" to me. I dream of all those balls and social extravaganzas. And then I recall that I'm a total homebody; I practically need rocket fuel to propel my butt out of the house.
So, maybe it's not my era. But if I could choose a super-power? Puh-lease, hands down - time travel. Can you imagine? Oh swoon.
Well, with all this Frenchification and armchair time-traveling lately, I thought I might make something, well, French and, well, from another era. Duh. So hard to follow, no? Um, no.
What I decided upon, mon amies, was Calissons. What le heck are they, you ask? There are a few historical versions of their origin, but apparently this confectionery was introduced in 1473 for the wedding dinner of King Rene's second marriage. Later, during the 19th century, Calisson factories sprouted up and today, the capital of Calisson production is found in the Provence region.
Now, since I'm French and all - I thought mine would turn out just perfectly. You know, my French blood and everything. Makes sense to moi. Well, I don't think mine turned out quite right, despite all those French cells screaming through my bone marrow. I just don't get it.
But anyway, on the subject of time travel, what era would you blast yourself into, if you could?
I honestly can't recall from where I obtained this recipe - somewhere on the intertwined interwebs; usually, I print out a recipe and include the name of the creator. In this case, clearly my French blood interfered. Anyway, these taste a bit like Marzipan but with a nice hint of fruity flavor and, to me, a yummier slant of sweetness than Marzipan. The color of the nougat should actually be more homogeneous and smoother - mine appear a bit funky because there was still some skin on my sliced almonds and I'm not sure I ground them fine enough. Dang me. They are extremely easy to make and a nice little treat if you like almondy flavors with a hint of fruit. This is a translated recipe, so forgive the annoying measurements. It's not you, it's me.
6.3 oz. ground almonds
3 oz. powdered sugar
1.75 oz. apricot jam
1/4 tsp. almond extract
2 tsp. orange blossom flower water
For the icing: 1 egg white & 3/4 c. powdered sugar (and milk, if needed, to thin icing)
In a food processor, grind almonds as fine as possible. Add sugar and pulse until combined, just a few seconds. Add jam, extract, orange water and process until it forms a smooth paste - it may ball-up in the processor, indicating it's finished combining. It will be a sticky dough, but form it into a ball and place on a large piece of plastic wrap (the piece should be much bigger than the ball) - place another piece of wrap on top of the ball and then roll the dough out (rolling on top of the 2nd piece of wrap) until about 1/4 inch thick. Uncover and leave at room temperature for 1-2 hours or until the dough is not sticky to the touch.
If you have an almond-shaped cutter, use that as it is the traditional shape. If not, use a small round cutter and then use a knife to cut each circle in half. Alternatively, you could use a knife to hand-cut almond shapes. Place cut-outs on a baking sheet lined with parchment and refrigerate for about an hour or until the candies are firm.
For the icing, mix together the egg white and powdered sugar; if too thick, add a bit of milk. It should have the consistency of a thick syrup. Dip the top of each Calisson into the icing, letting the excess drip off, then place onto the parchment. Repeat with the remaining candies and then let them sit at room temperature overnight. ENJOY!