>> Wednesday, December 8, 2010
This is a reinterpretation of two typical Spanish Christmas sweets, marzipan and dried fruit compote, combined in one scrumptious dessert. The mousse recipe comes from a book by famous Spanish pastry chef Paco Torreblanca and for the sauce I used my method of cooking the dried fruit in sweet wine, without sugar added as marzipan already has plenty of it. Also it is a great alternative for those who find marzipan overly sweet or heavy... this is a lighter way to eat it.
Marzipan is one of those culinary treasures that we do not appreciate in full because here in Spain we all grow up with it and that makes it all too familiar for us... and we take it for granted. As Claudia Roden tells us, Spain is the largest commercial producer of marzipan in the world, with the beautiful town of Toledo as the center of this trade. In Toledo there is a marzipan museum, where this delicacy is described as the ancient symbol of harmony between Arabs, Jews and Christians in the city during the Middle Ages. In Toledo marzipan is made by grinding equal weights of blanched almonds and sugar until the almond oil that is released turns the mixture into a smooth paste. This paste is modeled with traditional molds and baked in the oven until it browns on top. I will say that the Germans (I have relatives in Germany) also have popular varieties of marzipan, with the peculiarity that their marzipan always carries a tiny ratio of bitter almonds, unlike the common Spanish marzipan. I assure you that bitter almonds give it a very interesting twist.
This mousse caught my attention because it seemed a very different way to taste something so ubiquitous and familiar to Spaniards as marzipan.
For the mousse:
For the compote:
There you have a very elegant dessert made with most traditional ingredients... this is going to turn into a classic at my household, I am sure. I hope you enjoy it in the upcoming Christmas.