Marzipan and almond paste are pretty similar, as both are made by grinding almonds and sugar together. The differences are that marzipan is sweeter than almond paste (almond paste is 50% of almonds by weight, whereas marzipan is 35-45% almonds), and that marzipan has a smoother texture. Marzipan is often colored using food coloring and all kinds of figures are made of it. For an autumnal dessert I thought it would be nice to make marzipan mushrooms. And instead of using food coloring, I decided to color as well as flavor the marzipan using mushroom extract. This worked very well, as the marzipan mushrooms do not only look like mushrooms, but their flavor and scent also has a nice hint of mushrooms.
For the mushroom extract you can use any type of dried mushrooms — I used porcini/cepes. Soak the mushrooms in hot water, and then reduce the soaking water to about 10% of its original volume to intensify the mushroom flavor. You can use the reconstituted mushrooms for another dish. To make marzipan with the right texture, it is best to use powdered sugar (also known as confectioners’ sugar or icing sugar).
For about 500 grams (1.1 lbs) of marzipan, or about 16 mushrooms
200 grams (7 oz, about 1 1/3 cup) white almonds
250 grams (8.8 oz, about 2 cups) powdered sugar
50 grams (1.8 oz) dried mushrooms (I used porcini)
500 ml (2 cups) water
Soak 50 grams of mushrooms in 500 ml (2 cups) of hot water for 15 minutes.
Strain the soaking liquid, first with a sieve, and then through a moist piece of kitchen paper.
Reserve the reconstituted mushrooms for another dish.
Put the mushroom soaking liquid in a saucepan, bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer until reduced to about 1/10 (about 50 ml or less than 1/4 cup). Allow to cool.
Put 200 grams almonds in the food processor with 250 grams of powdered sugar.
Process until the almonds are a fine powder, then add the reduced mushroom liquid.
…until the mixture has come together into marzipan.
Note that for making marzipan the Magimix wins hands down from the Vitamix. When I first made marzipan I tried it in the Vitamix, but it overheated and I had to move over to the Magimix.
Transfer the mushroom marzipan into a bowl.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for two days to allow the flavors and texture to develop.
To shape into mushrooms, make balls of 15 grams (1/2 oz) each using your hands.
Take two of those balls, flatten one a bit to make the stem and flatten the other some more to make a cap. Then press them together until they attach. Repeat until you have used up all of the marzipan.
Homemade ravioli are my specialty. I love to serve them at dinner parties and delight my guests with those parcels of delicate pasta with a scrumptious stuffing. These shrimp ravioli are served with a ‘pink’ sauce of tomatoes and cream. Their secret is that all of the flavor of the shrimp goes into the stuffing, as the heads and shells are turned into a stock and then reduced to a shrimp ‘syrup’ that is added to the stuffing. The texture of the stuffing of these shrimp ravioli is so light it is almost fluffy and it has a delicious elegant flavor.