Well, not exactly madness, in fact far from madness, an afternoon of pure Christmassy joy in the kitchen this afternoon. I’ve been looking at some Christmas recipes over the past few days, and had my own epiphany. I never realised how easy it was to make my own mincemeat AND marzipan.
First for the mincemeat. I found some recipes, one a Delia (naturally) and one from the BBC good food site. Both seemed just that little bit too easy. Auntie Beeb suggested placing all the ingredients into a bowl, stirring, then decanting into a jar and storing until needed. Delia went that one stage further suggesting a combination of the ingredients, then warming through in the oven for a few hours, melting the suet over the apples, cooling and decanting.
I took to twitter and asked if anyone had made mincemeat, was it worth it? Stumbling upon one conversation between 2 tweeters, Don’t Boil The Sauce ( I don’t know his real name) suggested adding limoncello and possibly rosemary.
I jumped on that idea, limoncello being one of my more favourite drinks. I decided to not go down the rosemary route, but in a subsequent conversation tonight, I might steal another of Don’t boil the Sauce’s ideas and try rosemary in the pastry!!
My adapted recipe is
700g of mixed sultanas, currants & raisins
175g of dark brown sugar
1 Tablespoon of Mixed Spice
Zest and juice of 1 orange
125g of peel
225g of diced apples
A very generous glug or two ( or three ) of Limoncello
Simply, mix all the ingredients together, I used a metal mixing bowl, until all combined, remember to try the limoncello before adding, just to make sure it is ok to use!! Then, place the bowl into an oven, set at gas mark 1 and leave for about an hour. When removing from the oven it will look a little unappetising as the suet will have melted. Cover with a towel, leave to cool completely.
Give it a quick stir, decant into a sterilised jar, this recipe I decanted into a 1 litre Kilner jar, and had a few tablespoons left over, and leave in a dark place until ready to use. Thank you Don’t boil the Sauce for a great idea!!
Now for the marzipan. Be prepared gentle reader, this is a really technical recipe, but will make a beautiful light marzipan ready to cover your Christmas cake. For homemade marzipan you will need
175 g of ground almonds
175 g icing sugar
Yep that’s it. You need to sieve the almonds into a bowl, then sieve the icing sugar on top, break an egg on the middle, stir with a wooden spoon until combined. Now being the muddy kitchen floor, I have added an ingredient, 1tsp vanilla paste, just for a little twist.
Tip onto a surface dusted with icing sugar, (warning, icing sugar does and will go everywhere) and gently knead. Don’t overwork it, as it will go greasy, just enough to that it becomes smooth and less sticky.
It’s that simple. If you make your marzipan in advance like I have, triple wrap it in cling film, then freeze. Now for a confession, not all the marzipan reached the freezer today, it was just too delicious, so I may have to make some more to cover the cake.
A lot of people show a dislike for marzipan, but in think this may be because we are used to that thick, brittle artificially intense yellow substance that is over manufactured. Homemade marzipan is so different, I would suggest you at least give it a try.