As November progresses and the wonderful autumn colors fade into the all consuming greyness that is Parisian winter, I start thinking about Christmas. Early as it might be, it gives a bright twinkly light to the end of otherwise grey and rainy tunnel. Growing up in a Nordic country winter season means cold harsh weather and short dark days, when the sun can set as early as 2pm. But it also means snow, ice skating, many cosy evenings spent by the fire place, lighting candles, drinking mulled wine and making the first preparations for Christmas. Of course this isn't the case in Paris, where the temperature rarely drops below zero and I have yet to see the snow. But I feel for me this makes it even more necessary to bring a little bit of warmth and festive sparkle into the season. This doesn't mean decorating the house yet, although that time will come soon enough. For now, it's all about creating the feeling of comfort and getting into the winter mindset. This is the time I like to dig up my warmest sweaters, stock my pantry with spices and start thinking about this years Christmas dinner menu. Another seasonal favourite of mine is marzipan. One of my all time favourite treats, specially during winter and holiday season.
In Estonia marzipan is easily found in stores in the form of confectionery, bars for baking and is widely used in different bigger and smaller baked goods. It is one of the oldest sweets made in Estonia dating back to the 15th century. Originally used for medicinal purposes, marzipan is traditionally given as painted figures during Christmas time, not only in Estonia but also Germany and many of the Scandinavian countries. So there is definitely an association between marzipan and Christmas, and not just for me.
Paris can be wonderful when it comes to food but they don't have proper marzipan, at least I haven't been able to locate one. They do have pâte d'amande but it' doesn't taste quite the same. And in situations like these you are forced to make an effort and just do it yourself. Marzipan isn't difficult to make, it's one of those things that before moving to Paris I was so used to buying that I just never bothered to make it myself. I like to use marzipan in various ways in baking, from grating into cake batters to making the amazing German Mandelhörnchen. However, sometimes the simplest things are the most rewarding and in this case, probably my all time favourite, is the humble marzipan truffle. Made into little balls and drenched into dark chocolate and no recipe or wisdom is needed. The humbleness lies only in the simplicity of making these truffles, the flavour is anything but modest. The hard dark chocolate cover accents perfectly the soft and sugary almond center. Only thing left to do is conquer and devour. Pure happiness.