Sunday, January 1, 2012

A new form of a semi-old tradition, and the hunt for something

This recipe is sort of a convergence of two things.  First, it is a continuation of the tradition of me making marzipan for the Dadster every year for Christmas. Second, it is possibly the end to a years-long hunt for a recipe for something special.

Years ago, BFF A used to have a job where she travelled the world.  Several times, she would bring me back this marzipan that she would get in Spain.  It was unlike any marzipan that I had ever had -- still chewy and almondy, but the outside was a little crunchy and browned, like it had been baked.  Once I started making my own marzipan, I wanted to figure out how to make something like what A would bring me back from Spain.  I tried a bunch of different things, none of which were successful (did you know that if you bake regular marzipan, it puffs up and becomes hollow? it's pretty nifty, but not what i wanted.).

One day, while scanning through my Googly reader, I came across a recipe for "Figuritas de Mazapan", and the picture intrigued me.  And, the recipe was in Spanish.  I was hoping this would be what I had been looking for, so I gave it a shot (after I used Google translate on the recipe, which made for an interesting recipe). I figured that the worst that could happen was that it would be no good, and I could fall back on the regular marzipan that I make normally. 

I am happy to report that this recipe was a success! While not exactly like the ones A would bring me, I think part of that is because mine aren't mass produced and then packed in plastic and sold to the masses.  The end result was almost like a really chewy almond cookie.  In fact, when the Dadster first opened them (packaged in a super cute R2D2 pail that I got a Disneyland), he thought they were little shortbread cookies, until he smelled them.  And, the Momster, who doesn't like marzipan, even like them!  I will for sure be using this recipe in the future (and it doesn't help that it's easier than regular marzipan).

Figuritas de Mazapan (or, Baked Marzipan Cookie Thingies)
Source: Sin Salir de Mi Cocina
Makes a bunch, depending on how big your cutters are.

Note: The original recipe uses a piece of equipment called a Thermomix.  I don't have one of those, but I do have a food processor, so that's what I used.  Also, when you use Google Translate on something, there are lots of weird little sentences that don't really make sense.  So, the recipe I've put here is what I did, based on the original. Also, I used a food scale for the measurements, so I don't have the cup equivalents.

500 g raw almonds (original recommends Marcona, but those are very expensive, and hard to find in bulk. I used regular raw slivered almonds)
375 g sugar
25 ml water
1 or 2 egg whites

Egg yolk to paint the pieces before baking

In the bowl of a food processor, process the sugar for 20 to 30 seconds.  Add the almonds and process for another 20 to 30 seconds until they are finely ground. Add the water and let it sit for a minute or so, and then process again to form a ball.  If it doesn't form a ball, add a little egg white for extra moisture.  Dump the mix onto a clean surface and knead with your hands to form an evenly moist ball.  It will be a little sticky, but not much.  Divide the ball into two, and wrap each in plastic and let it sit for 30 minutes at room temperature.

After the 30 minutes, roll 1 ball with a rolling pin to about 1/2" thickness (thicker if you want).  Line two baking sheets with parchment.  Cut out the dough with the cutters of your choice (I recommend small ones) and set them on the baking sheets, set a little bit apart.  Repeat with the second ball of dough.  Let the sheets sit out, uncovered, 6 to 7 hours, or overnight.

After the sheets have sat out and dried, preheat your oven to 375.  Brush each piece with a little bit of the egg yolk and bake for a few minutes (I think I did mine for 6-8, but keep an eye on them) to give them a little color and a crust. 

Let cool on the sheets, and then store in an airtight container. 

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