Thursday, 8 August 2013

how to make a man out of marzipan

Sorry guys, if you find the title a little misleading - I haven't (yet) come up with an innovative method of creating a walking talking person out of almond sugar paste - this is the Lucas does Domestic Goddess-ness episode with ginger-less gingerbread men.  See, doesn't Marzipan Man sound better?  What do you think his superpowers would be?  Answers on a postcard . . .

I decided to write this out so that I don't forget it having been literally begged by Petal and Noah to do so.  The basis of the recipe has been lifted from the easy peasy biscuits I posted way back in November, but (of course) with extra added almond-y-ness.  The almond-y-ness was, in fact, the point.  In an attempt to eat less biscuits, I came up with the cunning plan of making only biscuits that I don't like - and I don't like marzipan.  So I contaminated a batch of biscuits, and guess what . . . it turns out I do like marzipan - when it's in biscuits.  Oh dear.

250g plain flour
150g soft marg
125g sugar
75g marzipan
2tsp almond extract

I do the whole lot in the mixer, mainly because I'm lazy and can't be bothered to do it by hand I'm always in a rush, trying to make these in between researching the cure for the common cold, conquering Everest (my pet name for the laundry mountain), and wrangling children who have somehow, from somewhere, got the impression that I know what I'm doing.

Get the marg out of the fridge about twenty minutes before you start if you can, it mixes much better if it's softer.  If it's a warm day put your marzipan in the fridge (or even freezer) when you get out the marg.

Once you're ready to start, turn the oven on to 180°C, and turn the radio on so you can boogie along with the music while you cook.

You want the dough blade in the processor - this is usually made of plastic, and it's blunt - this means it mixes the ingredients rather than chopping them up.

Put the marg and the flour in the food processor, and blitz these together until it looks like breadcrumbs in there - see?

Roughly chop the marzipan into pieces - much easier if it's cold - or even grate it if it's solid enough (if you check the picture you'll see a carefully planned 'marzipan too soft' moment).  

Briefly blitz this into the mixture.

Add the almond extract and blitz again, and now you're ready for the fun bit!

Tip out your mixture onto a work surface, and keep some plain flour handy.
Start using your hands to bring the mixture together - nothing complicated, just squish it together!
Knead the dough, adding a couple of tablespoons of flour as it starts feeling greasy, and knead this in.  

The dough will get more greasy as the warmth of your hands softens and melts the marzipan - this is fine - just keep kneading and adding a tablespoon of plain flour until the dough is soft and smooth, pliable rather than greasy.

Put a little flour on your work surface, and use a rolling pin to roll the dough out to between a centimetre and a centimetre and a half. 

Put a couple of tablespoons of plain flour to the side of where you're rolling, to shuffle your cutter in between cuts.  This flour helps the biscuit release easily from the cutter, so your shapes have clearly defined edges.

Put the biscuits on a baking tray (I have pieces of
re-usable non~stick liner on mine - love it).  To complete the whole marzipan man thing you need to add eyes a nose and a big smile, but most importantly of all, a big M on the front - see?  In to the oven . . .

Depending on the size of the biscuits, they will take between ten  and fifteen minutes to cook - they will change from pale to a darker golden colour.  Don't worry too much if they are on the ever-so-slightly-

-oven side 
- they'll still taste great - just remember to reduce the time a little next time!

Points to remember (that I forgot) :

  • Preheat the oven (so the biscuits go in and cook, instead of going in and melting as the oven warms)
  • Put the marzipan in the fridge (so it doesn't rejoin as you chop it like marshmallows - ever cut up marshmallows?)
So, go - cook - let me know how you get on!

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