I am currently reading the Miniaturist for a book club. The story takes place in 17th century Amsterdam in the house of a VOC trader in spice and other goods.
The books has me drooling over oliekoecken with rosewater and ginger (doughnuts), mulled wines with cloves and cinnamon, and whatnot other wonderful spices the house cook uses in her baking.
The protagonist Nella mentions her favourite sweet several times in the first chapters of the book: Marzipan!
And I could no longer wait to make these myself.
Especially it being just the perfect season for it.
In the Netherlands and Belgium we love to receive and give marzipan for Saint Nicolas (celebrated on the 6th of December). They are usually shaped in forms of fruits or animals with the use of food colouring. Or sometimes, as this recipe, simply dusted with some cacao powder.
These little melt-in-your-mouth treats will now be widely available in shops in Belgium leading up to the Saint Nicolas celebrations. And as I am getting a bit nostalgic…
Here is the recipe to make your own!
- 250gr. of ground almonds
- 250gr. of icing sugar
- ¼ tsp of almond extract
- ¼ tsp of lemon juice
- 1 white of one medium egg
- 1 tbsp of good quality cacao powder
- You can use whole or flaked almonds as well. Even if you use ground almonds, I would blitz them just a little in a food processor to make sure the mixture is as fine as possible.
- Mix by hand all the ingredients except the cacao powder. It might look dry at first but keep working it until the whole mixture has come together. If still to dry add a little bit of lemon juice at the time.
- Shape into little balls. Make them as big or small as you want. I like irregulars shapes to suit your hunger/fancy…
- Put the cacao powder in a clean plate and roll the marzipan balls in it until covered.
- Store in the fridge and eat whenever you so fancy!
*Recipe comes from Belgian chef Jeroen Meus