As a small gift to celebrate the holiday season, I give you this recipe drawn from my cookbook. It appears in the mignardise chapter, in which I give recipes for sweet bites to serve at the end of a meal — in place of, or in addition to dessert, with coffee or tea.
For these particular treats-on-a-stick, you’ll make your own hazelnut marzipan (wait, come back! it’s really easy, I promise!), shape it into small balls, and dip them in chocolate. They are fun to assemble, and they make a lovely closing note to a festive meal. You could also keep them on hand for nibbling as you decorate the house, wrap up your gifts, or cuddle up with a steaming mug to delve into a good book. (You’ll find the recipe at the bottom of this post.)
Speaking of gifts, I hope you’ll consider bidding on some of the fantastic items that food bloggers around the world are offering for our Menu for Hope fundraiser. You could also bid in someone’s name, and give that person the gift of a good deed, plus a chance to win the item come January. Read on for more information on the campaign, and the prizes I’m offering.
~ Cheese thins,
~ Green pea cilantro spread,
~ Jerusalem artichoke soup with bacon,
~ Champagne and saffron mussels,
~ Lamb and orange khoresh (Persian stew),
~ Gratin dauphinois (potato gratin),
~ Spaghetti squash gratin with walnuts,
~ Brussels sprouts with onions and squash seeds,
~ Saffron-roasted cauliflower.
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- 120 grams (1 cup) shelled hazelnuts, toasted and husked*
- 100 grams (3/4 cup) confectioner's sugar
- A pinch fine sea salt
- 2 teaspoons honey or maple syrup or agave syrup (grease your measuring spoon with a little vegetable oil)
- 85 grams (3 ounces) high-quality bittersweet chocolate
- Combine the hazelnuts, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor, and pulse until finely ground. Transfer to a medium mixing bowl, and form a well in the center. In a small bowl, combine the honey with 1 tablespoon hot water, and stir to dissolve. Pour into the center of the hazelnut mixture, and stir with a fork to blend.
- Knead the hazelnut paste for a minute or two, until it comes together and you are able to shape it into a ball. (It will be a little sticky, but it will dry as it chills.) Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least an hour, and up to a day.
- Remove the hazelnut paste from the fridge. Scoop out rounded teaspoons, and shape them into small balls, about 2 cm (3/4 inch) in diameter, with the tips of your fingers. Line them up on a plate, and plant a toothpick vertically in the center of each. Cover loosely with plastic wrap, and place the plate in the fridge.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler (i.e. a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water), stirring from time to time.
- Dip each of the marbles in turn in the chocolate, holding it by the toothpick and swirling it around gently to coat. Leave the very top uncoated, so the hazelnut paste shows. Lift from the chocolate, let the excess chocolate drip down for a few seconds, then set on the parchment paper, toothpick pointing skyward. Let rest somewhere cool (but not the refrigerator) for 2 hours, until the chocolate coating is dry. The marbles will keep for up to 4 days at room temperature in an airtight container.
* If your hazelnuts are skin-on, rub them in a kitchen towel just after toasting to remove most of their brown papery skin.