This post is also available in（こちらの言語版もある）: Japanese
It’s almost Christmas and I can’t even believe it! Where has December even gone?! Most years I feel like I end up having the opportunity to meet up with a lot of friends in December at parties and such so I have plentiful excuses to make holiday-themed treats to share, but this year I feel like I’ve done nothing but work, and the only treats I made and distributed were the gingerbread rum “Sandy Claus” cake pops I uploaded last week. That just didn’t seem like enough to me and I was searching for an excuse to make at least one more simple thing, so when one of my coworkers was lamenting that she had never seen marzipan for sale in Japan and she missed it at Christmastime, that gave me the idea to try to make it myself. Marzipan is a popular European confection made from ground almonds and sugar with a texture a bit like Japanese “an” (sweet bean paste). It is typically colored and formed into the shape of fruit, flowers, plants, and the like to be used as decorations like on bûche de Noël (yule log) cakes, used inside of other sweets like chocolates or stollen (German fruit cake), or rolled out and used in place of icing to cover cakes. While it is by no means strictly a Christmas treat (especially in Europe), it’s used in so many Christmas treats that it has a Christmas image at least in the US and can even be purchased premade. However, it is really very easy to make even here in Japan, and is cute and tasty enough to be eaten on its own when shaped into these little mushrooms and dipped in chocolate, so if you’re looking for a simple yet cute last minute holiday treat that doesn’t even require an oven, give these a try★
The first memory I have of having marzipan at Christmastime was off the bûche de Noël (yule log) cakes my mother would get from a local bakery to have for dessert on Christimas Day. The actual log cakes are chocolate so of course I can’t eat them, but the cakes my mother got when I was a kid were always decorated realistically with little mushrooms and other details made of marzipan, and I have fond memories of eating the mushrooms off of the cake. As a result, marzipan still makes me think of mushrooms to this very day.
Now, the truly ironic thing about my marzipan-mushroom association is that the coworker who was nostalgic for marzipan hates real mushrooms. Hates them. In fact, if she finds them in her lunch in the cafeteria, she gives them to me, which I of course don’t mind as I am quite fond of mushrooms–fungus or marzipan. At any rate, since I am a complete menace, I thought it would be pretty funny to surprise her with a bunch of marzipan mushrooms, so I whipped up a batch of marzipan and started shaping it into little mushrooms.
Making the marzipan mushrooms was really easy–all it took was kneading the ingredients together with my hands until they formed a paste, rolling out stems, pinching out caps, and attaching them with a little corn syrup as glue. They were cute and tasted just as I had remembered, but I had some leftover dark chocolate laying around and figured that if marzipan-filled chocolates are popular, then marzipan-dipped mushrooms would be both tasty and visually a bit more interesting. I was afraid the caps might detach from the stems if I coated the entire mushroom, so I just went for dipping the caps, but the result was marzipan mushrooms that looked just like shiitake mushrooms. In fact, so realistically like actual shiitake mushrooms that my coworker said that before she sampled them, every time she glanced at the box of mushrooms it repulsed her. However, after actually trying them, she declared the dark chocolate-dipped mushrooms to be nostalgically delicious and requiring of rationing so that she wouldn’t eat the whole box, so I guess she doesn’t hate all mushrooms after all!
I gave the mushrooms to my coworker to eat as-is and she enjoyed them that way, but you could definitely use these to decorate a cake or cookies. And of course you don’t have to necessarily shape your marzipan into mushrooms–you could do fruit, flowers, or anything else that suits your fancy. However, the mushrooms are easy to make and easy to coat with chocolate, not to mention rather cute, so I would definitely recommend them★
- 1 cup (96 g) almond flour
- 2 cups (256 g) powdered sugar
- 1 tbsp corn syrup
- ½ tsp almond extract
- ½-1½ tbsp water
- 3 oz (90g) dark chocolate for dipping
- Mix corn syrup and almond extract together in a small bowl and set aside.
- Sift almond flour and powdered sugar together into a large bowl.
- Add the corn syrup and almond extract mixture and mix well with your hands.
- Add the first ½ tbsp of water and knead well. Keep kneading and adding additional water as necessary until the mixture becomes mold-able and dough-like.
- Pinch out small amount of marzipan and roll into mushroom stems.
- Form the rest of the marzipan into small balls and flatter them out to form mushroom caps.
- Add a small amount of corn syrup to the top of each stem as glue and attach the caps.
- Put the mushrooms in the refrigerator to firm up.
- In the meantime, melt your chocolate in the microwave.
- One at a time dip the mushroom caps in the chocolate. Place the coated mushrooms on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and refrigerate until the chocolate dries.
- Once the chocolate is set, either use the mushrooms to decorate or enjoy as-is★
Marzipan recipe adapted from: http://motherwouldknow.com/how-to-make-marzipan/