Since the last 2 or 3 weeks, here in Germany, supermarkets and other shops are already getting packed with Christmas food, Christmas sweets, Christmas decoration, Christmas mood! As the smell of Christmas is beginning to make presence, and after almost buying some "Glühwein" (spiced sweet red wine) and Marzipan, I thought to bring to you a recipe for some delicious Christmas Delicatessen that are made with 2 of the traditional sweets of German Christmas, Marzipan and German Nougat (Hazelnuts-Cocoa). The delicious Pralines of Nougat and Marzipan.
Marzipan and Nougat are since centuries, the "Taste" of Christmas in North Germany. We have here in the north the city of Lübeck which is THE Marzipan town on their own right! Lübeck claim to have the best "Marzipan Konditorei" (Confectioners) of Europe, if not of the world! (though the Lübecker Marzipan is really sweet and very fine dough, I prefer the "Königsberger Marzipan", with bigger pieces of almonds and less sweet, made in the old town of Königsberg, today russian Kaliningrad).
Niederegger is the most famous Marzipan confectioner, having themselves built part of the long history of Lübeck, and having in the same old building where they started in 1822, both the Cafe and the Marzipan Museum (Marzipan Salon). Definitely worth a visit when going to the Hanseatic City of Lübeck if you want to try the best cakes you could possible ever imagine! (with a nice cup of Marzipan coffee!).
So, here is the easy recipe, make something different for these Holidays and surprise your guests with some authentic German taste!
Pralines of Nougat and Marzipan
(aprox. 30 pieces)
- 200g Marzipan dough
- 200g Hazelnuts Nougat (the pure and creamy brown-Cocoa-Hazelnuts Nougat)
- 30g Confectioners sugar (If you like them really sweet you can add sugar, but I prefer not to, as Marzipan and Nougat are already sweet enough)
- 2Tbs. Amaretto or Rum
- 50g. ground hazelnuts
- 50g. ground almonds
- 30g. chocolate couverture
- Baking paper as needed.
Note: if you can't find the Nougat or the Marzipan, one or the other can be substituted by Coverture Chocolate melted in water-bath, I assure it is also delicious.
Cut the Marzipan dough in several smaller pieces. Mix with the Confectioners sugar (in case you use it), almonds and liquor. Knead until you have an homogeneous dough.
Divide the Marzipan dough in 4 pieces. Lay a sheet of baking paper and take one of the portions of the Marzipan and flatten it carefully with a roll until you get a rectangle of 12.5 x 15 cm 5 x 6 in) aprox. Caution: the Marzipan dough is VERY sticky, so be extra careful when working with the roll. I also strongly recommend to have a flat serving plate or something alike, and cover it with the baking paper (I used our wood cutting board). Place there the first rectangle.
For the Hazelnuts Nougat layers, melt in a small pot in water-bath the whole piece of Nougat to be used and mix the ground Hazelnuts, reserve a few for decoration. (Tip: I used the microwave on 560W for less than one minute, try yours).
Add a third of the melted Nougat over the Marzipan layer on your serving plate. Distribute it to cover the whole rectangle. Keep the rest.
Back to the Marzipan, do the same with the rest of the pieces until you complete the 1-1 series. You should finish with a Marzipan layer.
The first time I made them, they were exactly as described (photo above), the second time I made more layers because I added the ground almonds (as an extra, I added one layer of thin wafer as a non-sticky base and extra crunchiness. See photo below).
For the remaining layer of Chocolate couverture, melt it in water-bath (or again in the Microwave, not too strong) and cover the last Marzipan layer. (to make them with more "Nuts" taste, I added more of the ground Hazelnuts to the Chocolate).
Spread some of the remaining ground hazelnuts and let it to cool down in the fridge at least for 2 hours.
Once it is cold, cut the borders to make the rectangle even and then cut it in small dices of 1.5 cm aprox. (0.5 in.) and serve :)
Well closed and kept in a cool place (fridge), they can last up to 14 days (if its possible not to eat them all before!)