Friday, 22 April 2011

Easter Marzipan Biscuits - We Should Cocoa

Phew! Just got my entry for this month's 'We Should Cocoa' Challenge done in time! I did have my muffins to fall back on, but they were fairly ordinary and I knew I should be able to produce something better.

This month's challenge, set by Choclette at Chocolate Log Blog, was to use marzipan in our chocolate cooking. The rules of the challenge are also on Choclette's blog, if you want to take part in the future.

My inspiration for this recipe was taken from a book called  Biscuits, Pastries and Cookies of the World, by Aaron Maree, who seems to have been a prominent Australian chef in the early 1990s. I've never heard of him, but the photos in the book are irresistible, and the few other things I've cooked from it have been very good.

The original recipe called these biscuits Marzipan Macaroons, and made them quite a bit smaller, with apricot jam added to the centre before baking.

I was toying with the idea of just adding something chocolatey - chocolate spread or Nutella - to the centre of the small biscuits when the proximity of Easter gave me fresh inspiration. Larger biscuits would look like nests, even if a little pale in colour, and so could have chocolate eggs placed inside, as well as a chocolate centre.

I've never used marzipan in this way, although the book contains several similar recipes, and I'm not very experienced with piping, so it was a bit of a gamble as to how these would turn out. I'm pleased with the result, although I would do a couple of things differently if I made them again. My first mistake was to put the sugar coated eggs onto the hot biscuits - I wanted the melted chocolate to hold them in place. Unfortunately the heat cracked the sugar shell on most of the eggs, so they look as if hatching has started! LOL! I shoulkd have waited until the biscuits were much cooler - the chocolate would have stayed molten for quite a while. The other thing is a minor detail - I would make the biscuit bases a little thicker.

The almond flavour of the marzipan really shone through in these biscuits, and was complimented by the not too dark chocolate in the centre, as well as the crunch of the sugar coated eggs. It's good to have an Easter treat that tastes at least as good as it looks.

100g plain flour
50g icing sugar
65g unsalted butter - chopped into small pieces
1 egg yolk  - from a large egg

270g marzipan*
150g caster sugar
2 egg whites - from large eggs
finely chopped chocolate**
a pack of sugar coated chocolate eggs

* the marzipan must be good quality with a higher percentage of almonds than sugar. I use Anton Berg marzipan which is 66% almonds

** I chopped 125g of 60% chocolate to fine rubble in a food processor, but used less than half in the biscuits

Mix the flour and icing sugar in a bowl and rub in the chopped butter, as when making pastry. Mix in the egg yolk, then use your hands to bring the dough together, kneading lightly until a smooth dough is formed. Shape into a disc about 1cm thick, wrap in clingfilm and chill for 30 minutes.

Grate or crumble the marzipan into a bowl, then work in the sugar until you have a solid mass. Add the egg whites gradually, and work in, until you have a mixture of piping consistency.

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Roll out the biscuit dough and cut out circles about 3"(7.5cm) in diameter. Place these on a well greased baking tray, or one lined with a parchment or silicone sheet. They don't spread much in baking, so can be quite close together. I got 12 circles, about the thickness of pastry, out of my dough, with a little waste - as I said earlier, slightly thicker biscuits would have been better.

Using a star nozzle, pipe a border of the marzipan mixture around each biscuit. Any remaining mixture can be piped directly onto a baking sheet, in finger or round shapes, to make extra macaroons.

Put a teaspoon of the chopped chocolate into the centre of each biscuit.  Bake for 10 - 15 minutes until the biscuits are cooked and the marzipan is just beginning to brown. Cool for a while then add the sugar coated eggs to the nests before the chocolate has solidified.


Anne said...

They look so cute and delicious too! What a fabulous idea, perfect for Easter time :)

Hanna said...

Love the idea of marzipan macaroons! They look delicious!

C said...

They look really good - you've certainly risen to the challenge of making something unusual incorporating chocolate and marzipan! And what would Easter be without Easter nests?!

Nic said...

Great idea for Easter! Lovely blog!

Chele said...

They look fantastic and such a great twist on the normal kind of 'nest' type decoration on cookies and cupcakes at this time of year. Well done and thanks very much in taking part in this months challenge ;0)

Dom at Belleau Kitchen said...

absolutely stunning!

snowy said...

They look great! A clever idea for Easter,Suelle.

Foodycat said...

It doesn't look like you are inexperienced with piping! It looks perfect!

Choclette said...

Agh, my comment went walkabout again - I know I made one! I think it;s my impatience that's the problem. If the word verification thingie doesn't come up immediatly, I've gone on to the next thing. Anyway, your nests are wonderful and novel way to use marzipan too. Very pretty. Hope you had a good Easter.

Foodiva said...

Suelle, these nest biscuits are precious. They make me wish I was 5 again (instead of 45)... What a clever idea to add on those chocolate eggs, I'm sure whoever ate these must've had a very enjoyable Easter indeed!
Btw, thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving those lovely comments ;-).