Home-made marzipan chocolates. Try coating figs and brazil nuts too!
Marzipan mouthfuls enrobed in dark chocolate
Marzipan is so popular over the Christmas period it's nice to know that you can very easily make your own, healthier version - no refined white sugar, no egg white and none of that nasty yellow food colouring. We used Xylitol (suitable for diabetics), which we hand milled to create a fine powder. If you you don't have a milling machine then just use the Xylitol straight from the packet. We now stock a ready powdered natural sweetener called Sukrin Melis, which is even closer to the flavour of real icing sugar!
The Lemon Juice and Almond Essence are two important natural flavourings in this recipe: the juice really counteracts the sweetness and the extract, as you would expect, enhances the overall flavour of the Marzipan. And finally, the syrup sweetener (we used Agave Nectar) within this recipe is essential to help bind everything together.
When coating the marzipan stars in chocolate, you will need to be patient as this is a two stage process. You will need to allow one side to cool before turning over and repeating on the other side. Disposable gloves are a necessity throughout the whole process in order to avoid finger prints and moisture touching the chocolate, which can cause odd patterns to develop once the chocolate has re-solidified.
You will find that this marzipan recipe can also be used to cover your Christmas Cake, although you will need to double the amounts at least, depending on the size of your cake. Check your cake recipe first.
Ideas for further experimentation: Try adding your own flavours to the marzipan such as almond, coffee, orange or pistachio licqueur instead of the Almond Essence. You could use different chocolate coatings, for example mint chocolate, to add different flavour combinations that way. Or, why not make a large marzipan "loaf" filled with preserved stem ginger and chopped nuts or perhaps liqueur covered cherries. If you are making marzipan into presents, why not coat other sweet nibbles such as figs, apricots & nuts, then pack them into your own chocolate assortment. We hope you have fun on your homemade marzipan and chocolate adventures!
1) In a large bowl mix together the Ground Almonds and powdered Xylitol so they are evenly distributed.
2) (Optional: put on some disposable gloves) Add the Almond Extract, lemon juice, cold water and the agave nectar and bring together to form a ball. N.B.This mix is going to be sticker than you are used to with shop bought marzipan!
3) Lay a generous amount of cling film on a clean work surface, large pastry board or wooden chopping board. You can lay this out either 'landscape' or 'portrait'. Bear in mind that for a 'portrait' orientation you will be rolling in an up-down direction, and if you choose 'landscape' you'll then be rolling from left-right.
4) Place the ball of marzipan in the centre of the cling film. Sprinkle some ground almonds on top and some over the surface of the cling film, as you would if flouring a board for pastry.
5) Fold one end of the cling film over the ball. Take a rolling pin and gently begin rolling over the surface of the cling film, forming the marzipan into a rectangle of your required depth.
6) Take your chosen cutter and cut out your stars/shapes. Tip: Highly intricate shapes will be hard to achieve due to the slightly more brittle nature of this marzipan mix, so choose simple, bold outlines. Use a palette knife or spatula to lift the shapes onto some greaseproof paper laid over a baking sheet or plate. Again, you may want to wear you gloves for this bit.
7) Melt half of your chosen chocolate and then put on some fresh disposable gloves. Using one of these or combination of tools e.g.: teaspoon, spatula, palatte knife, clean pastry brush, gently paint the melted chocolate over the top surface and down the sides of each marzipan star. Patience is required as you will now need to wait until this layer has solidified. Place in the fridge if you want to speed things up, before turning over the stars and repeating on the other side with some more of the melted chocolate.
8) Once completely cool, tidy up the edges with a small sharp knife, before transferring into your gift bags/boxes or storage box.
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