Waitrose - UAE Grocery Deliver

Waitrose - UAE Grocery Deliver

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A love letter to marzipan

  • Food
  • 29.03.24
Words Waitrose 29/03/24

Love it or hate it? No, not Marmite, but the other controversial m-word – marzipan. For reasons I am unable to comprehend, about two-thirds of the British population react to the stuff like you’ve offered them chicken pox. The rest of us believe that crushing almonds and sugar into a deliciously squidgy golden paste is the pinnacle of human invention, and could we snaffle that bit you just peeled off your slice of Battenberg cake, please?

I come from a proud line of marzipan devotees.

My German grandfather never turned up without continental treats: squares of dark Ritter Sport chocolate with a marzipan centre that squished satisfyingly between your teeth, or slim bricks of the real German deal, Niederegger, wrapped in bright gilt paper. Chocolate eggs at Easter played second fiddle to my mum’s marzipan-topped simnel cake, which triggered decidedly unchristian squabbles over who got the plump ‘disciples’ on top. Even in lean times, there was marzipan. My English grandmother, whose culinary clock stopped abruptly at about 1944, had a rationing-inspired technique for ‘mock marzipan’ – sugar paste with almond essence – which she’d let us children make wonky marzipan fruits with on rainy days.

Leah Hyslop
Marzipan's pleasing ability to be modelled is part of the magic”

Nobody knows quite who invented marzipan. Many cities in Europe claim it as a speciality, including Toledo in Spain and Lübeck in Germany – though the idea is possibly of Arab origin. Its pleasing ability to be modelled has always been part of the magic. Elaborate marzipan structures once decorated court tables: Leonardo da Vinci was a dab hand, noting stroppily that the Milanese nobles ‘gobble up

all the sculptures I give them’. Marzipan art is still part of many seasonal celebrations around the world. At Easter, Sicilians craft beautiful lambs, stuffing them with another marzipan made of pistachios (because the only thing marzipan needs is more marzipan).

It’s easy to make it yourself, but my weakness is for those sturdy supermarket blocks. I’m so drawn to the stuff that once on holiday in Portugal,

I accidentally served marzipan melted onto burgers. (In my defence, it was sold in the cheese aisle.) While marzipan burgers may not catch on, it’s worth seeing marzipan not just as a special-occasion ingredient but as a perker-upper of everyday cooking. It’s great with chocolate (marzipan brownie, anyone?) and even better with fruit. I like it best in little molten nuggets tossed through a pear crumble or bread and butter pudding. I won’t try too hard to convert you, though… More for me!

Food 30.01.24

Shocking-pink forced rhubarb’s arrival on the culinary scene is a joyful antidote to February days. Although often considered fruit (we’re looking at you, crumble), these vibrant stems officially count as veg, lending themselves artfully to savoury cooking. Rhubarb makes for a fine, sharp pickle or a tangy counterpoint to oily fish and rich stews. High in fibre and antioxidants, it’s as nutritious as it is flavourful. Look for firm stems, rinse well, then trim both ends, removing any leaves (which are toxic). Cut stems into similar-sized pieces to aid even cooking”

Five ways with rhubarb Read more

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