Choclette, over at Chocolate Log Blog announced that this month's special ingredient for We Should Cocoa is marzipan. See, this is why its called a blogger's challenge. I had no idea, other than a simnel cake, how I could include chocolate and marzipan in one dessert. So it definitely was a challenge for me.
Marzipan also reminded me of a story involving me and Kay early on in our relationship. I always claim I was a naive, innocent girl who got sucked into the big, bad wolf's net. Kay, strongly disputes this claim, calling me a little schemer, who knew exactly what she was getting into... and that is an argument that will go on long after we're sitting all doddery in our retirement chairs in an old age home somewhere :-) Or until one of us kicks the bucket, after which the other's version will reign supreme...
I am rambling, though. About five or six years ago, when I just started out cooking, I asked Kay what marzipan was. He told me a very involved story, that included this ingredient that had been found on Mars and brought back to earth etc etc. And I actually fell for it, until Google rescued me. Gah!! Men!!
But of course, coming back to the actual challenge. I thought long and hard about how I could include marzipan and chocolate in one dish. Then inspiration struck in the form of Canadian Living (yes, again!) I remembered a macaroon recipe featuring coconut. And of course, I figured out that macaroons can be flavoured in any way that we choose.
So I headed off to the Italian Centre, where I found a nice slab of marzipan. I also picked up Lindt's dark Madagascar chocolate, my chocolate du jour for any baking. I then fought off the kid and a husband, rescued my chocolate and marzipan, and proceeded to make these little bites of heaven. Then of course, I had another fight on my hands, just so I could get a few pictures of them before they got devoured.
I was not very sure how these macaroons would taste. But my official tasters gave these a big thumbs up, which was gratifying, as they are very quick to point out a dish that doesn't quite work (I tend not to blog the ones that don't get the full approval rating of Kay and Kid, or work at it until it gets full approval) They were quite crisp on the outside, and chewy on the inside. The marzipan gave it an unexpected element, and the chocolate was beautifully dark and melty, balancing the sweetness of the macaroon perfectly.
I am going to post the recipe as I adapted it. I also read up later that the recipe on the Canadian Living site is suitable for passover, as it uses potato starch. My recipe is not suitable, as I substituted cornstarch which, being the product of grain, is not passover friendly. So of course, in addition to challenging myself, I also learnt a lot about a religion and its rituals. Works for me!
2 egg whites
1/4 cup caster sugar
2 tbsp cornstarch
1 and 1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup chopped dark chocolate
1/2 cup shredded marzipan (leave some slightly bigger chunks)
Around 15 whole skinned almonds
Preheat the oven to 150 C
In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Add the sugar, little by little, and keep beating until the whites stay stiff and are shiny.
Gently fold in the cornstarch, coconut, chocolate and shredded marzipan.
Grease a cookie sheet very well (its important to make sure its well greased, otherwise the macaroons will stick)
Using a tablespoon, drop the macaroon mixture on the sheet. Gently place a whole almond on top of each macaroon, pressing it in gently.
Bake in the oven for 10 minutes on 150 C. Then lower the temperature to 120 C and bake for an additional 15 - 20 minutes, or until the macaroon is a light brown, and set without a wobble in the middle.
Take out, and leave to cool for a few minutes. Using a stiff spatula, gently ease off the macaroons, and place on a rack to cool completely.
This recipe makes around 12 - 15 macaroons. The macaroons will keep for three or four days. Layer between greaseproof paper, and place in an airtight tin.