Monday, December 5, 2011

Kitchen Adventure: Marzipan

I have a coworker who would like to see me make Battenberg cake (if you don't know what that is, don't worry). One of the key ingredients in Battenberg cake is marzipan and I, being the brave kitchen adventurer that I am, decided to attempt my own marzipan.

I Googled around, searching for a marzipan recipe and came upon this very basic one.
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/8 tsp cream of tartar
  • 4 cups ground almonds (or almond meal)
  • 2 egg whites
  • Powdered sugar for dusting
Seems easy enough, right? I didn't have any almond meal on hand so I got even more adventurous and made my own.
After I figured out the rough equivalency of whole almonds to almond meal (roughly 1 cup of almond meal ~=145g ), I measured out out my almonds. At this point, they still had skins so I had to blanch them in hot water.
Under water almonds!
The first set of instructions I found on how to blanch almonds said to pour boiling water over them and leave them for exactly 60 seconds. That was not even close to right. At all. If I'd done just that, I'd have spent hours upon hours (upon hours) trying to get the skins off the almonds. I looked for another set of tips and instructions and found out that the almonds actually have to look a little puffed up before the skins will come off easily. Sooo, back into the water and the microwave went the almonds!
Sure enough, after a little more boiling water, the almonds were completely prepared to have their skins popped off. And I mean popped off in the most literal sense, just squeezing one end of the almond to get the skin off resulted in an almond flying across the kitchen. Eric was kind enough to help me out because there were a lot of almonds to skin.
A pile of skins later...
I had some lovely pale almonds, although they were rather damp. I stuck them on a baking sheet and put them into the oven for 5 minutes to dry them out a bit. After they were cool enough to hold, I tossed them into my food processor.

Then I did a little bit of kitchen math with my two favorite kitchen tools in preparation for the candy making stage.
I got to test out my fancy digital candy thermometer!
It certainly takes a while to get to the range for soft ball so while I waited, I set up the area.
Still waiting...
After this, it was pretty hard to cool the sugar down while stirring constantly and take pictures so there aren't anymore.  The sugar part turned out great, it thickened perfectly. However I added in the egg whites and ground almond and everything went downhill from there. My marzipan is extremely sticky; it's certainly not soft and supple like it should be. The almond meal appears to also have been too coarse and there may have been too much moisture in it. 

However, despite all that, I think that if I make tiny little balls, freeze them and coat them with chocolate (or powdered sugar) I'll have a wonderful dessert.Failure is all relative when it comes to baking!

Have you had any recipes fall flat lately? How'd you handle it? Let me know in a comment down below! :)