A must have on the Christmas sweets platter in Goa and Bombay this delicately sweetened almond or cashew nut paste can also be used to drape cakes and shaped into designs
- 125 grams cashew nuts * see notes
- 190 grams white granulated sugar a little less than a cup
- 1 egg white
- 1/4 th cup rose water
- a few drops of almond or vanilla extract
- food colouring * optional
- rubber or silicone moulds
- butter or oil to grease the moulds and palms
Soak the cashew nuts in a bowl of water for 4 hours. Overnight is best. Then gently rub each cashew nut to get rid of any extra skin. Rinse and drain on a colander.
Grind the cashew nuts, sugar, egg white and rose water together to a fine, smooth & thick paste. Do not add any water.
Transfer the paste to a wide, heavy based pan or kadai (this is a pre requisite or you may end up burning the marzipan if you use flimsy pans) and cook it on a medium low heat stirring every now and then to prevent scorching.
Approximately 20 minutes later the paste will begin to thicken from a loose, runny one to thick, condensed milk like consistency. Continue to stir until the mixture thickens. Reduce the heat to low
About 35-40 minutes later you will notice that the mixture begins to leave the sides of the pan and will come together in a mass which will resemble a ball of dough (chapathi dough). Check for readiness by taking a small portion of the mixture and rolling it between your thumb and index fingers. If the mixture is no longer sticky it is ready.
Transfer the mixture onto a lightly greased plate. Add the drops of almond or vanilla extract and let the mixture cool slightly (don't let it cool completely). Grease the moulds lightly with butter or oil
When the mixture is cool enough to handle, lightly grease your palm with butter or a drop of oil and knead it into a smooth and pliable dough ball free of cracks.
Pinch out small portions of the dough and roll them into smooth marble sized balls (approximately) and fill the moulds and press gently. Remove excess dough and level off with a dab of butter to achieve smooth surfaces. Continue till all the dough is used up. (see note#6)
Keep the moulds to dry for 30-40 minutes or till they the marzipan feels cool to the touch. Then gently twist the moulds and pop the marzipan shapes out. Serve!
1. Marzipan is traditionally made with almond meal (almonds skinned and powdered) however in India, marzipan is synonymous with Christmas sweets and is famous in Goa and Mumbai. Cashew nut is the nut of choice for the Indian version of marzipan as it is locally grown unlike almonds which are usually imported and a lot more costly.
2. Use the best quality/fresh stock of cashewnuts that are fairly clean and white and not dull and yellowish. If cashwewnuts are unavailable you may use almonds. Just blanch them (place in a bowl and pour boiling water over them - cover for 20 mins and then peel off) before grinding.
3. Most marzipan recipes call for sugar that is twice the quantity of the cashewnuts. I personally find it too sweet for my liking. This results in a mildly sweet and delicious marzipan. However, if you like, you can increase the sugar according to taste. Do not judge the sweetness of the marzipan when it is still cooking. When foods are hot, the tongue cannot gauge the exact sweetness.
4. If you don't have moulds you can make freehand shapes of your choice. To colour the marzipan pinch out small portions of the dough (retain more of un-coloured marizpan always) and flatten into a disc. Add a drop or two of food colour at a time in the centre and fold the edges carefully towards the centre and then keep folding till all the portion has been coloured. This way you can avoid getting a lot of colour on your fingers.
5. If you are using gel based food colouring (which is ideal) use a toothpick to draw out colour from the bottle and apply it onto the marzipan.
6. The dough has a tendency to dry up quickly and turn crumbly making it hard to roll without cracks. So in order to keep it smooth & pliable just pop it into a microwave safe bowl/plate and warm it up in 15 second spurts to keep it soft. Re grease fingers with butter, knead and you are all set to go!
7. Give this confection your full attention while you prepare it. It is ideal to start making it when you are free and don't have to multi task. Patience is a must as the mixture can burn if you increase the heat to hasten the process. Marzipan that has burnt is not tasty