Marzipan

Candy, Unfussy
This is my favorite marzipan recipe. Vera would eat the entire batch if I let her. It mixes up quickly in the food processor with the almond flour I usually have in the freezer. Cut it or mold it in shapes, dip it in chocolate, cover a cake, fill a Stolen, etc…

  • 1 1/2 cups finely ground almond flour
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 1/2 tsp. almond extract
  • 1 egg white

Pulse the almond flour and powdered sugar together in the food processor until combined. Add almond extract and egg white and process until a smooth dough has formed.

Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use. Or eat.

Butterfinger Candy

A little bit fussy, Candy
I’m not sure it’s a good thing to know how to make butterfingers. I made them for Valentine’s Day and I am already thinking about when I can have an excuse to make them again.

  • 1 1/4 cups smooth peanut butter
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3/4 cup corn syrup
  • 1 TBSP butter

Special equipment:

  • candy thermometer
  • silicon molds

Preheat oven to 200°F. Stir peanut butter and salt together in a large, heatproof bowl. Place bowl in preheated oven to keep warm.

Combine vanilla and baking soda in a small bowl and keep handy next to the stove.

Combine sugar, corn syrup and water in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Once sugar has dissolved, attach a candy thermometer and cook until the syrup reaches 285°F.

Remove from heat and stir in baking soda and vanilla – the mixture will foam.

Carefully take peanut butter out of oven and fold in foaming syrup – fold together until the mixture is somewhat combined but there are still streaks of peanut butter throughout. The mixture will become quite stiff.

Working quickly while the mixture is still warm, divide among your silicon molds. Any molds will work, but I like these to be about 3/4″ to 1″ thick, so I don’t fill my molds all the way to the top. Any extra can be molded on parchment paper. The cooled bars don’t cut well, but you can break them up into shards which are just as tasty.

Let the butterfingers cool and harden for a couple hours or overnight. Remove from molds and dip in chocolate. Crispity crunchity.

Dreamy Lemon Meringue Pie

Fussy, Pie
I’ve always loved Lemon Meringue pie, but often been disappointed by the dry meringue and gelatinous lemon filling. Here is the lemon meringue pie I have been dreaming about – a creamy tart lemon filling (closer in texture to Key Lime pie) and marshmallowy Swiss meringue on top.

Cream Cheese Crust:

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 TBSP powdered sugar
  • 6 TBSP cold butter
  • 2 ounces cold cream cheese
  • 1/2 tsp. cider vinegar
  • 2 TBSP heavy cream

Lemon Filling:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • Zest of 5 lemons
  • 3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature

Swiss Meringue:

  • 6 egg whites, room temperature
  • 1 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
  • generous pinch salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Make Crust: Combine flour, salt, baking powder and powdered sugar in food processor. Cut butter and cream cheese into tablespoon-size pieces and add to flour. Pulse food processor until butter and cream cheese are incorporated but the mixture is still dry.

Transfer to a medium bowl. Stir in vinegar and heavy cream with a fork. Turn out onto work surface and smear the dough with the heel of your hand until the dough sticks together and you can form it into a ball.

Roll out between pieces of wax paper until it is large enough to line a 9″ pie plate. Line pie plate with dough, crimp, and poke holes in the bottom with a fork. Cover with wax paper and freeze for at least an hour or overnight.

Preheat oven to 425°F. Line frozen crust with parchment paper. Fill with pie weights, and bake for 15 minutes. Remove pie weights and parchment and bake for another 10-15 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool completely.

Make Filling: In a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, stir together sugar and lemon zest. Whisk in eggs. Whisk in lemon juice. Place over medium heat and whisk constantly until the mixture thickens – don’t neglect the edges of the pan. Continue cooking until one bubble pops at the surface, then immediately remove from heat and strain the mixture into a blender, discarding lemon zest and any bits of scrambled egg.

Let the mixture rest in the blender for 5 minutes. Cut the butter into tablespoons. Turn the blender on high and add the butter, one tablespoon at a time. After all the butter has been added scrape down the blender and continue to blend for another minute until the mixture is smooth and thick. Refrigerate until completely cool, at least 4 hours.

Whisk together lemon filling to loosen. Fill baked and cooled pie shell with the cooled lemon filling. Place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the lemon filling and refrigerate until ready to serve. Make meringue and top pie as close to serving as you can manage.

Make Meringue: Fill a medium saucepan that will fit your mixer bowl in it without touching the bottom with a couple inches of water and bring to a simmer.

Whisk together egg whites, sugar, cream of tartar and salt in the bowl of your stand mixer. Fit your stand mixer with the whisk attachment.

Nest the mixer bowl over the simmering water and whisk the egg white and sugar mixture until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is hot to touch (test with your finger for temperature and for sugar granules) – about 5 minutes.

Transfer to stand mixer and mix on low until frothy. Increase speed to high and whip until light, cool and marshmallowy – about 7 minutes. Mix in vanilla extract. Immediately pipe or spread meringue on the chilled pie.

Preheat oven to 500°F.

Bake pie for 5 minutes, watching closely, to brown the meringue. Serve immediately or chill until ready to serve.

Rum Balls

Candy, Food Hoarding Confessions, Unfussy
When I have cookies that are getting stale I stick them in a bag in the freezer. If you put them in the food processor you can turn them into a cookie crust for pies or cheesecakes, or use them for this thrifty little trick I’ve been doing to use up leftover cookies and assorted nuts that need a home after the holidays.

  • 3 cups crushed cookie crumbs (pretty much any cookie works here – chocolate, vanilla, graham crackers, etc…)
  • 1 1/2 cups finely chopped nuts – toast them ahead if possible
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 3 TBSP corn syrup or honey
  • 1 tsp. rum exract
  • 1/2 cup dark rum
  • Additional powdered sugar or cocoa powder for coating

Process cookies in food processor – measure 3 cups (+/-) and set aside. Process nuts in food processor – measure 1 1/2 cups.

Put cookie crumbs and nuts back in food processor. Add powdered sugar, cocoa powder, corn syrup, extract and dark rum. Pulse until evenly combined and starting to stick together.

Form into balls (1” is a good size, but it’s up to you). Coat in additional powdered sugar or cocoa powder.

Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

These are excellent right out of the fridge. They are also excellent when they come to room temperature and get soft and boozy.

Fruitcake Cookies

A little bit fussy, Cookies
These are actually a little more like Stollen cookies – almond flavored dough studded with fruit and toasted pecans. The texture is soft and chewy and total perfection in my book.

  • 1 1/2 cups chopped dried fruit (apricots, figs, raisins, etc.)
  • 1/2 cup candied cherries (morello, maraschino, etc.)
  • 1 cup Brandy or Cognac
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 8 oz. almond paste
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 TBSP brandy or cognac
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup pecans, toasted and chopped

Chop the dried fruit into small pieces- about the same size as your raisins. Halve the candied cherries. Place in a bowl and cover with Cognac or Brandy. Let sit overnight.

Drain the fruit and reserve 1 TBSP cognac/brandy.

Toast pecans in 350°F oven for 10 minutes. Let cool and chop coarsely.

Cream butter, almond paste and sugar in a mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, until incorporated. Add the tablespoon of brandy/cognac and mix. Scrape bowl and mix well.

Stir together flour, baking powder, cloves and salt. Add to the butter and mix until combined, scraping bowl if necessary. Add fruit and pecans and mix well.

Divide the dough in half. Shape each half into a 15″ log and roll up in parchment paper. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours and preferably overnight.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Slice the dough into 1/2″ slices using a sharp knife. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet, about 2″ apart. Alternately, to get a more uniform cookie – you can do what Dorie Greenspan does and bake each round in the cup of a muffin tin.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, until starting to brown around the edges.