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Red Robin Pantry Chocolate Dipped Handmade Marzipans

I have to say I do love marzipan, its one of my favourite things, not that I got much chance to eat it as a child, my sister loves it even more than I do and she was bigger than me! Most of you are probably thinking that marzipan is pretty easy to pick up, you can buy a block in the bakery aisle in the supermarket. Sadly when you buy it like this in the shops you'll be lucky if 25% of that marzipan is made from almonds, and sugar will be the first thing listed in the ingredients. This week I've been making real marzipans, with 50% almonds or other nuts.

There are two methods for making marzipan, and really which you choose depends on how you plan to use it. The first uses icing sugar, egg and ground almonds, which when kneaded together creates a dough that's great for using to decorate fruit cake. You do have to allow this to dry before coving with fondant, and it doesn't have the best shelflife. Also, I wouldn't advise this if you plan on serving it to anyone who can't have raw egg, such as those who are pregnant. It creates a nice flavour but doesn't tend to be very smooth. The second method is the method used in the confectionery industry. This method involves using a hot sugar syrup to bind the almonds or other nuts, you then use a food processor to grind the nuts and sugar into a smooth paste in small batches. This not only results in a very smooth marzipan, but it also removes water from the marzipan as the dough gives off steam as it processes. It's a much longer process but my it's worth the extra effort, as once it's cool and set, it's wonderful dipped in chocolate.

This week I've been creating new marzipan chocolates for our stall at the Truro & Falmouth Farmers Markets, for trial before adding them to our online shop. We started simply with a toasted almond marzipan, simply dipped in milk or dark chocolate and finished with toasted almonds on top. So if you are dairy-free or vegan the dark chocolate marzipans are perfect for you.

I then decided to experiment with different nuts, starting with pistachios. Now you can't make marzipan without almonds at all, but you can use a 50:50 blend with other nuts to create some wonderful marzipan variations. So I created a pistachio marzipan with a little orange, a classic blend to begin with, simply dipped in white chocolate, followed by a maple and walnut marzipan dipped in milk chocolate. The later I was slightly unsure of when I began, but my god it was good. The maple in the syrup came through beautifully, yum.

Our new 50% handmade marzipan chocolates are available to buy on Tuesdays at Falmouth Farmers Market, and on Wednesdays at Truro Farmers Market alongside our other truffles, chocolates and our gourmet marshmallows. We'll be including them on our online shop later this year, perhaps with a few other varieties after further experimentation.

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