While I quite like dark chocolate, I have never been much of a candy person. My sister, Eliza, had an almost cult-like obsession with Skittles and I was fond of the occasional Mounds but the bulging bag of collected Halloween candy would barely have a dent in it by the time the next Halloween rolled around. The exception to all of this, as you may have guessed, is Easter. I love Easter candy.
I like a lot about Easter actually. A friend recently asked me if I knew why Easter occurred when it does. By the leading tone of his voice I could tell he knew the answer. Without skipping a beat, I replied, “it’s the first Sunday, after the first full moon following the Vernal Equinox.” I also really like fun facts.
I am pretty much a fan of all that Easter has to offer, but it was never about the spring lamb, just the candy. An Easter Egg Hunt, perhaps a few dyed eggs and the candy. My father loves Easter Egg Hunts and has declared that only women and children can participate in the hunting while the men hide the eggs. Not sure where he found these rules but it never bothered me as I was either in one hunting camp or the other. Jelly beans never did it for me but they were always a staple in our Easter baskets, lovingly prepared by my mother, because she is, in fact, quite a fan of jelly beans. Peeps remain to this day a guilty pleasure but since I only like them stale (just pierce the package and wait, perfect for international shipments!) they only really count for Orthodox Easter, which is two weeks later.
For me, it was always the marzipan. Shaped like bunnies, apples, pigs. No matter. I love it. This adoration even graced the pages of the New York Times when my mother’s Upper East Side marzipan go-to of 20 years shuttered its doors.
It would only make sense to try and make it myself. Turns out, its basically just sugar which can part explain the attraction but it’s also relatively easy to make. Ever since the red M&Ms disappeared from their packets and Red Dye #2 was demonized across the land, I have been a bit skeptical on food coloring so I decided to go the natural route for dyes. Some of the below are better than others but each are easy to make and can be used to dye eggs too.
- Red Cabbage: This is the left over water from boiling red cabbage reduced. It is great for dyeing eggs.
- Beet Juice: Also great for eggs, worked well for marzipan too
- Charcoal: The chick was going to need eyes, right? This is an edible charcoal that comes in a tablet. Also good for clearing the system of toxins.
- Carrot Juice: Good for eggs, also works for a subtle carrot.
- Spinach Juice: I would say lukewarm for both but I couldn’t stomach the spirulina mixture.
- Turmeric: Great for both eggs and marzipan. I thought the strong spice might be a deterrent but my 9-year-old assistant assured me it was still plenty tasty.
It turns out this is a great activity for kids but make the marzipan first, powdered sugar can turn your house into a culinary meth lab if you’re not careful. You will need 200g caster (fine) sugar, 200g icing (confectioners) sugar, 300g ground almonds, 2 egg whites and a teaspoon of vanilla. You could also use almond extract instead for extra almondy marzipan.
- Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl (pulse in the food processor if you feel the ground almonds are too coarse)
- Lightly whisk the egg whites and vanilla extract in separate bowl.
- Create a well in the center of the sugar mixture, pour in the liquid and use your fingers to incorporate them into a ball
- Refrigerate until ready to use.
- You can use the dyes to either color the marzipan or as paint.
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If you are interested in some of my marzipan creatures please feel free to contact me on the form below.