The Musette: almond marzipan batons

Hands down these are our favourite biscuits. Or, should that be biscotti since we generally buy them in Italy, made from almonds or pistachios, either as batons or more usually crescents. I’ve also seen way larger versions, tipped in chocolate, in Germany where they’re called Mandelhörnchen.

These satisfy my desire for something made with almonds, that’s dairy and gluten-free, and allows me to use up any egg whites lolling around in the fridge. Yes, I know I could freeze them but this is way more exciting. I also keep handy blocks of home-made marzipan in the freezer, as you do!

I’m not sure why I’ve never attempted to recreate these nutty crescents before, especially considering how easy they were to make. In any event, the texture was spot on: crispy on the outside with added crunch from the sliced almonds, with a soft and dreamy, chewy marzipan-like interior.

As I said, these were very easy to make, all you need is some some raw marzipan and the rest of the ingredients are easily thrown together.  You can, of course, use shop-bought marzipan but I recommend making your own (recipe below)  – cheaper and it tastes so much better!

Ingredients (makes 12 crescents)

  • 250g (8 oz) homemade or shop bought marzipan, chopped into small chunks
  • 120g (1 cup) blanched finely ground almonds
  • 125g (1 cup) icing (powdered) sugar, plus more for dredging
  • 1 egg white (approx. 40g)
  • pinch sea salt
  • 2 tsp freshly squeezed  organic lemon juice
  • 1 egg white (approx. 40g) for brushing
  • 110g (1 cup) sliced blanched almonds

Method

1. Pre-heat the oven to 170C (150C fan)/(325F/300F) gas 3½. In a food processor, grind the almonds to a flour, then add the sifted icing sugar, salt, lemon juice, marzipan, and egg white. Process in bursts until the mixture comes together in a thick and tacky, but not overly sticky, dough.

2. If it’s too sticky add a little more ground almonds and/or sugar to it. Wrap the dough in cling film (plastic wrap) and chill for at least 30 minutes (Note: this paste can be made days in advance).

3. When you’re ready to make the biscotti, break the dough off into pieces and roll them into golf-ball sized balls. Then roll each ball into a small log, tapering it off so each end is a little thinner. Or, for ease, just roll into short batons.

4. Use a pastry brush to brush egg white all over the dough.

5. Roll each biscotti into the slivered almonds. They don’t have to be completely coated. Now bend each into the shape of a crescent and place them on a lined cookie sheet leaving space in between, or just leave as batons.

6. Bake the marzipan almond horns/batons on the middle shelf for 10-15 minutes or until the tips are just starting to turn golden. Remove and let them cool completely before dredging in more icing sugar.

7. In theory these will last a week in airtight storage, in practice they disappear in nano seconds.

8. You can further embellish them with chocolate, in which case don’t dredge with icing sugar. Instead dip the ends or one half into melted chocolate (dark) or ganache. Place the biscotti back on the baking sheet or other surface to let the chocolate harden.

Homemade Marzipan

  • 180g (1 1/2 cups) blanched ground almonds
  • 190g (1 1/2 cups) icing (powdered) sugar
  • 1 tsp pure almond extract
  • 1 egg white (approx. 40g)

1. Place the almond flour and powdered sugar in a food processor and pulse until combined and any lumps are broken up. Add the almond extract and pulse to combine.

2. Add the egg white and process until a thick dough is formed. If the mass is still too wet and sticky, add more powdered sugar and ground almonds. Remember: it will become firmer after it’s been refrigerated.

3. Turn the almond marzipan out onto a work surface and knead it a few times. Form it into a log, wrap it up in cling film (plastic wrap) and refrigerate.

4. It will keep for at least a month in the refrigerator or up to 6 months in the freezer. Bring to room temperature before using it in any recipe.

5. Makes approx 400g marzipan/almond paste (approx 14oz).