The Hectic Time of Year

Life has been hectic and my blog has been neglected. I have been reading copiously, most recently a short, chatty biography of Alfred Hitchcock by Peter Ackroyd.  Interesting to read a film book by someone who’s obviously not a film critic.  While probably not the most complete analysis of either Hitchcock or his work, it was a pleasant read and made me want to go back and revisit the films themselves.  I am now back to continuing my way through the Icelandic mysteries of Arnuldur Indridason and a very light Victorian thriller, Lady Audley’s Secret.  Back to more heady things once the holiday hysteria subsides.

In the meantime, I have been baking quite a bit and have managed twelve kinds of cookies this year. As promised, here is the recipe for one of everyone’s favorites, Marasche.  The original recipe is from the very lovely book Italian Baking by Carol Field.


14 oz almond paste
1 egg white
21 oz. jar Amarena cherries in syrup (I prefer Fabbri)
sliced almonds – about a cup

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the almond paste (I usually break it in chunks) and the egg white until they are smooth and uniform. The resulting mixture should be fairly sticky and malleable, but should be able to hold its shape.

Drain the syrup from the cherries – I usually set a small strainer over a bowl and leave them for about an hour.

Preheat the oven to 350.

Line baking sheets with parchment (one jar of cherries usually makes enough cookies to fill at least two sheets). Fill a small bowl with sliced almonds and another with water.  Take a small piece of the almond paste mixture (about a teaspoon) and make it into a flat disk in your palm.  Put a cherry in the center and bring the almond paste around it, pinching off any excess almond paste.  Roll into a neat ball, roll the ball in the slice almonds, pressing them in, if they’re not sticking, then place on the lined cookie sheet.  Continue working until you’re out of almond paste, leaving about an inch between the cookies on your baking sheet (rinse your fingers from time to time in the water bowl as they will get sticky). Bake for about 12-15 minutes until set and lightly browned on the bottom.  Makes about 30-40, depending on how thin you can get the almond paste coating.

These will keep very well in a covered tin or cookie jar and are beloved by pretty much everyone.

More very soon when things are a little calmer.



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