Monthly Archives: December 2013

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Marzipanstollen for a White Christmas

Marzipanstollen

White Christmases in the Pacific Northwest are rare, far in between, and possibly just a myth. So when Christmas presents no snow, one can simply make their own (and arguably, much sweeter) White Christmas with layers of powdered sugar.

Marzipanstollen

Marzipanstollen has always been a favorite holiday season food. It’s full of nuts, dried fruit and a log of marzipan, together making stollen a substantial, buttery snack for cold days. We’ve always purchased loaves from bakeries and stores, but when I found a cheap packet of marzipan earlier this season, I decided it was time to attempt baking it myself!

Marzipanstollen
Marzipanstollen
Adapted from David Lebovitz and Frugal Feeding.

Makes 4 mini loaves.

For the starter
1 envelope (0.25 oz, 2 1/4 teaspoons) instant dry yeast
1/2 cup milk, warmed
1 cup flour

For the fillings
2/3 cup raisins
2/3 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup orange juice

1 cup walnuts, chopped

7 oz. marzipan (Potential sources: Odense or IKEA)

For the dough
3 cups four
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon honey
1 egg yolk

To finish up
Powdered sugar, per individual preference: ~1/2 – 3/4 cup

Begin by preparing a starter: In a small bowl, combine and stir together warmed milk with yeast. Add 1 cup flour and stir until evenly mixed. Cover and leave to rise for one hour.

Meanwhile, combine raisins, dried cranberries and orange juice in a separate bowl. Cover and leave to sit for one hour.

After an hour has passed, combine 3 cups flour, salt, sugar, ground ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, orange zest and walnuts in a large bowl. Add in the vanilla extract, melted butter, honey and egg yolk, and mix until well-distributed. Mix in the starter, followed by the orange juice-soaked dried fruit mixture. Fear not, the dough should not be smooth, but rather a bit clumpy. Pour out contents of the bowl and knead the dough several times. Return dough to bowl, cover and leave to rise for one hour.

After another hour has passed, turn out the contents of the bowl and knead the dough several times. Return dough to bowl, cover and leave to rise for another hour.

After yet another hour has passed, line a baking tray with parchment paper. Then, pour out the contents of the bowl for the final time! Split the dough into four parts and form a ball out of each portion. Press dough into a circular disk on the baking sheet. Split your marzipan bar into four equal parts and roll each into a cylinder just as long as the the diameter of a single disk of dough. Press one marzipan cylinder into the center of one dough disk and roll up each disk — it should now resemble a very rough batard. Pinch the seams of the dough together and place the loaf on the baking sheet such that the seam is on the bottom. Repeat for the remaining three portions of dough. Cover and leave loaves to proof for one hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake for 40 minutes or until the tops of loaves are a dark, golden brown. Immediately dust with a generous helping of powdered sugar. Rub in the powdered sugar and then sprinkle another layer on top.

Turning over a new brownie

raw-brownie-3

Hello there! It’s been awhile. Since I last posted, I started graduate studies in speech-language pathology, and I am happy to report that it’s wonderful! But it is far more stressful than I anticipated it would be. Clearly, my attendance on this blog does not indicate that I have been particularly successful at balancing school and real life, and reaffirms my ongoing mission to maintain a well-balanced life.

This past quarter, I’ve found myself sheepishly retreating to the frozen food aisles of grocery stores more often than I wish to admit. While I spent much of my free time last year carefully selecting my groceries and organizing well-balanced meals, I spend more of my time now thinking about how quickly I can get a semi-decent meal on the table and wolfing it down before studying.

A couple of weeks ago, after a particularly guilty and embarrassing day of quick, store-bought food, Geoff and I both decided to turn over a new leaf in our diets and be more intentional with what we eat. Let me just say that despite this 11 o’clock revelation, it is hard to realistically wean oneself off a revolving door of daily scones and creamy espresso beverages, especially when one’s academic building is a 30 second walk from four coffee shops. I am only human, after all!

So when I came across — and more importantly, tasted — this raw brownie recipe, I fell in love. Now this is a brownie that I can get behind! It’s rich in chocolate, but full of nuts and dates to provide sustainable energy throughout the day. And it contains no added sugar! Have a brownie for breakfast! As a mid-morning snack! A mid-afternoon snack! Dessert! This fits all of the bills.

All of this post’s beautiful pictures are courtesy of Geoff, photographer extraordinaire!

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raw-brownie-1

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Raw brownies
Slightly adapted from My New Roots’ Raw Brownie

2 cups walnuts
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 1/2 cups pitted Medjool dates
Up to 1/4 cup water
1 cup slivered almonds

In a food processor, pulse walnuts until fine. Add cocoa powder and salt and pulse until well-mixed. Add dates and pulse until mixture is homogeneously ground and sticky. Add water one tablespoon at a time until the mixture appears as though it can be pressed together and hold its shape (you may not use the full 1/4 cups of water). Empty contents of your food processor into your baking or serving dish of choice (I used a 11” x 7” glass baking dish). Mix in slivered almonds until well-distributed, and press brownie mixture firmly into the pan. Eat immediately for a softer brownie or refrigerate brownies with a foil tent to harden.