I’ve always been drawn to marzipan cookies. They stand out behind the glass of the bakery counter, unlike any other; beside rows of cookies topped with sesame seeds, sprinkles, and chocolate chips, to spot a marzipan is like discovering a piece of art. Brightly colored and often shaped as fruit, they barely look edible; in fact, when I was little I didn’t think they were. Then, I tasted one, and it was like forget about it*!
*“Forget about it,” often pronounced, “fugetaboutit.” For more on its usage, refer to Donnie Brasco:
From then on, I remember asking my dad to grab me a marzipan cookie every time he had to run into the bakery. I would always look forward to seeing what kind of “fruit” would be in the bag when he returned. A sweet mixture of almond paste and pure sugar, marzipan is like candy and a cookie in one. It can be molded into anything--people, animals, sandwiches, flowers—but is traditionally spotted in the form of produce like bananas, oranges, and strawberries, realistically painted with food coloring.
As you can see, the paint really brings each of the shapes to life. Except in the case of my
sorry little strawberry, which looks more dead than anything.
Making Marzipan Roses:
1) Roll a piece of marzipan into a ball and flatten it. Take the flat circle and fold it around itself.
2) With a slightly larger piece of marzipan, roll into a ball and flatten. Pinch the top of the flat circle a little to form a petal shape; wrap around the first petal. Continue this process throughout, making each layer a little bigger than the next for as many petals as you would like.
3) Once you have completed your rose, I find it to look a little prettier when all or most of the petals are pinched in the middle of their edges for an added bit of texture.
4) If desired, you can paint the finished roses with food coloring. You can also fold the food coloring into the marzipan before you sculpt it but it might be messier and stain your hands.
I am just as impressed by marzipan today, as I ever was. Perhaps what is most remarkable is that while it can be shaped into a presentation of beautiful flowers and Frutta Martorana, it also tastes really good.