hazelnut marzipan kisses

December 15, 2009

I am trying to think of a better name for these, but until I (or someone else) come up with something, kisses they are. This is a very simple treat that I learned how to make in Switzerland (but I don’t think that it is traditionally Swiss). There are three ingredients; marzipan, toasted hazelnuts, and chocolate.

My favorite marzipan to use for this particular recipe is imported by my friends’ company, Purely Organic. It is very sweet, so a little goes a long way. I made about 60 candies with one package of marzipan, and I think that you could stretch it even more.

To make about 60 kisses

1 package (8.8 oz) marzipan

about 60 nuts (toast extra just in case)

a few chunks of chocolate (sorry to be vague but I didn’t measure…)

Toast the hazelnuts in a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes. WATCH LIKE A HAWK. Over toasting nuts is one of the easiest things to do!

After the hazelnuts are toasted, the skins crack and are easy to remove. I usually place the nuts in a towel and rub them together until the skins come most of the way off, and then finish removing them with my fingers. Make sure to wash your hands when you are finished removing the skins, as you don’t want them ending up stuck all over you nice light brown marzipan.

The next step is to pinch off a piece of marzipan and roll it into a little ball.

When you have made a few balls, press a hazelnut into the top. I like to have the point of the nut facing up. Because marzipan dries out quickly, it is important to do this in batches so that the edges don’t crack. Make a few balls, add the hazelnuts, and continue like this.

Once you have finished making the candies, you can dip them in melted dark chocolate. This step is optional, but I definitely love adding the brown cap. Kind of like a little acorn. I melted my dark chocolate chunks in a double boiler that would have made my sister squirm. But I only dropped the chocolate pan into the water once, and the finished product came out well, so I think it was okay. I guess the main thing with heating chocolate in a double boiler is that you don’t want the top pan to touch the water below, or the chocolate will get too hot. (If you have any questions, just call Heli-Claire!)

After the kisses are dipped, leave them out until the chocolate cools.

After the chocolate cools, I place the kisses in an air tight container with sheets of waxed paper between the layers. They keep well, although I can’t really tell you how long, as they usually are gone within a few days…

brandied cranberries

December 9, 2009

Last Monday my dad and I went down to the Dutchman’s store in Cantril. We found a nice collection of items including a new pair of lined pigskin gloves for firewood duty, some potting soil, hotpads, peanut butter filled pretzels, and cranberries! Fresh Wisconsin cranberries to be exact. Two large bags of them…

I can’t resist a good looking batch of fruit, and so I grabbed them up and brought them home, thinking the whole while about everything that I could make.

Brandy, cranberries, cinnamon, sugar, and orange zest. That is it! The recipe is from Joy of Jams, Jellies, and Other Sweet Preserves, by Linda Ziedrich. I made one batch and liked it so much that I made a second! The recipe is simple, and the preserves can be processed for storage, or eaten right away! I put mine in little jars to give away, or open and eat all by myself. (Sometimes pint or 1/2 pint jars are too big forĀ  me to finish soon enough, so the smaller servings come in handy. And they are cute.)

I used one of my favorite tools on this project; a citrus zester. There are sharpened little circles across the top, and you drag the zester down the side of the orange (or lemon, lime, etc) and it peels nice even strips off. The hole on the side is for larger pieces of zest. I am not much of a gadget person, but this particular tool is awesome!

Cranberries, sugar, and zest, ready to be baked in a slow oven. The sugar almost caramelizes a little, and the flavors mellow and come together. I would guess that most of the alcohol cooks out of the brandy, but the taste is definitely still there!

The finished preserve is a rich dark red, with a hint of cinnamon and a refreshing tang.

pomander balls

December 9, 2009

When I was little, I remember my mom sitting us down at the kitchen table with a bowl of oranges, and a bowl of cloves. My friends Adrien and Dain were over, and we all set out to work on our pomander balls.

Our sort of pomander balls are made by poking holes in oranges and filling them with whole cloves, and then dusting the finished product with powdered cinnamon. The whole process smells lovely, and the result is a beautiful ball that can be used for decoration, or to keep out moths and bad smells. They are nice to keep in a dresser drawer.


Supplies:

as many oranges as you would like to make (I used smallish, firm, not too juicy oranges)

a dish of whole cloves

a little dish of powdered cinnamon to dust on the studded oranges at the end

a thick darning needle, a nail, or a thin metal knitting needle

a tea towel to place in your lap during the process

optional ribbons

Step one is to poke holes in the orange with the needle. You could skip this and dig right in with the cloves, but I have found that the needle step saves your fingers a little.

Step two. Place the cloves into the holes as carefully as you can. I found that some of the cloves broke easily, but most of the heads stayed on.

When you have covered the orange with cloves (or have gotten fed up with the process), dust the orange with cinnamon. I dusted it lightly, and then tapped the orange gently to remove excess.

The finished oranges can be decorated with ribbons tied around the middle. Leave the orange alone where the ribbon is to go (stick with cloves on either side) and then tie the ribbon around the orange after dusting with cinnamon.

The oranges will dry out and remain sweet smelling for a long time.