Last fall, we had a "bad" almond harvest. Meaning we didn't think the few bags of almonds we got, were worth taking to the Cooperativa - we probably wouldn't get much money for it. However, we were still left with very big bags full of almonds... We gave some away, ate a few, put almonds into food as much as we could, a lot were eaten by our guests - but this summer there's still quite a lot left, and with a new almond harvest coming up (in September-October), it was time to do something with it.
First of all, I made amaretto. Unfortunately, there's no pictures of that process - I can assure you the end result is not for the weak of heart though. It was all gone pretty fast - I'm making more next year!
This week, one of guests the guests at our Bed & Breakfast suggested making marzipan. So we set them to work; that's right, we're something in between a Bed & Breakfast and a working camp. Thankfully, the guests in questions were more than happy to comply... Fleur set to cracking the nuts (with a stone) while Florian peeled them.
Since it was so incredibly easy to make, I decided to put the recipe here. I don't usually work with exact quantities; so when I say a "cup" of something, you can just as well do a bowl, or a pot, or any other type of recipient / measurement.
- 2 cups of almonds
- 1 cup of sugar
- 1/2 cup of water
- egg whites (you'll need approximately 1 egg white per 100g of almond flour)
- a lemon (you'll need a few drops of lemon juice per 100g of almond flour)
Other things you'll need:
- A food processor or blender that can take on almonds (they're quite hard, don't break your blender over it!)
- A clean working table (I used my wooden cutting board)
- A colander
- A pot to cook the mixture in
- A bigger pot (or the whole sink) to fill with cold water and put the pot with the mixture in to cool off
One of the recipes I used also called for powdered sugar to make the kneading easier - in my case, it didn't so I probably wouldn't use it again.
Blanching and grounding the almonds
If you are buying almond flour or ground almonds, you can skip this whole step. If you're working with fresh almonds (from the garden or store bought), you'll start with this part though... After the hard shell is taken off, almonds still have a brown peel; some people leave it on, but it's quite bitter so for marzipan it's better not to do this.
Blanching the almonds: set a pot with water to boil. When the water is just about boiling, pour the almonds in; leave them to boil for about 45-55 seconds (stir now and then). Certainly not longer, as the almonds would get cooked instead of just blanched. Then drain the almonds immediately in a colander (you can rinse them with cold water to cool them as well); shake them a bit and then put them in a towel to dry them a bit. You'll notice the brown peels have shrivelled a bit; now they'll come off really easily as well. You can just pinch the almonds to get them out of their peels.
After this, let the almonds dry completely. We let them dry overnight before processing them further.
Then it's time to ground the almonds; I put them in my food processor for this. I quickly learned that if I put too many almonds in it at the same time, they wouldn't get ground small enough; I tried sifting them but it took too much time (even though I had help from an 8-year-old...) - so I just blended them again, this time in smaller quantities. And a beautiful pile of ground almonds came out, just a bit coarser than actual almond meal.
I tried to blend too many almonds at the same time, so I tried sifting the meal so I could blend the coarser bits again... And then I decided to just blend smaller amounts at the same time.
How to make the marzipan
Fill the sink or a larger pot with cold water.
Put the sugar and the water (ratio: 1 cup of sugar to 1/3 cup of water) in a saucepan and heat while stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Then add a bit of lemon juice (a few drops per cup of sugar) and turn up the heat a bit; let it boil for 2-3 minutes.
Put the saucepan in the cold water you've prepared, so the mixture cools off; stir it until it becomes thick and creamy. Stir in the almond meal or ground almonds (2 cups of ground almonds for every cup of sugar) and the egg whites (1 egg white per cup of sugar). Then put the pot back on the stove (low heat) and keep stirring for a minute or 2, until the mixture is thick and well mixed.
Spoon the marzipan onto your working table or cutting board end let it cool off a bit. You can make that go faster by turning it now and again. When it's cool enough to work with your bare hands, you can knead the marzipan until it is smooth. You can use powdered sugar to cover your hands with before kneading, to prevent the marzipan to stick to your hands too much.
The (still warm) end result. It's delicious already, but it really needs to cool off before we can officially eat it!
Put the marzipan it into a plastic wrap, and store that in a plastic container (the plastic wrap is so that it's easier to take out after).
Next time I'm making it with honey instead of sugar... And my first try was definitely not as hard as it should have been, maybe because my eggs were really tiny? It's good to have room for improvement in any case!