Knowing me it could actually be anything but I won't keep you in suspense - it's Marzipan.
Just the word marzipan sends some faces into contortions of disgust and unless you really really really love the flavour of almonds, marzipan might not be on your "foods I enjoy" list - but I have found a recipe that is going to revolutionise the way you look at marzipan.
I love the books of Liz Franklin and when I spotted her latest "Caffe Italia" over the weekend, well, I just had to get it. Flicking through the pages the only difficult part was deciding what to make first.
Eventually, I settled on Ricciarelli - a speciality of Sienna. What especially interested me was that one of the main ingredients was marzipan, something that I'd not seen used before and that the recipe itself was extraordinarily simple. Could it really be that easy to produce those cafè favourites? The answer, a resounding yes!
250 grams marzipan, chopped roughly
100 grams caster sugar
grated rind of 1 orange*
1 teaspoon orange juice (or orange liqueur)
1 egg white
150 grams almond meal
*Because I have them on hand I've used blood oranges and I've added the rind to the dough, which is something my mother does, so feel free to leave the rind out and use regular juice or liqueur if that is all you have.
Place the marzipan into a food processor and process until it forms a paste. Tumble in the caster sugar, orange rind and juice and continue to process until amalgamated.
Add the egg and pulse to incorporate before finally adding the almond meal - process just until the mixture comes together.
Scoop the dough out into a bowl - it's going to be quite firm but a little sticky.
I used a small ice-cream scoop to portion the dough into roughly 20gram balls. Dust your hands with icing sugar and then roll these balls to form little finger sized logs. Place these logs on baking paper lined trays and then flatten slightly - leave room around each as they will spread a little when cooking.
Let these rest on the trays for about 30 minutes before baking.
Bake in a preheated 170°C/340°F oven for about 10 minutes or until golden. Let them stand on the trays for 5 minutes before generously dusting with icing sugar. Move them onto a wire rack to finish cooling.
One bite is all that's needed to realise you're eating something quite special - soft and moist but also wonderfully chewy, the edges of the ovals slightly crisp. The fragrance of orange comes through and its flavour softens the almond. All that's missing to complete the experience is a good espresso...