Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Badem, a Marzipan treat for a Special Occasion

Love is in the air!

Bridal season has a special meaning for our family this year. My niece will be getting married in a few months, and as the aunt-of-the-bride, I don’t have a specific role, but I will help, wherever needed.

I wanted to see if there were any traditional Armenian recipes associated with bridal showers or weddings, so while flipping through my Armenian cookbooks, I found a recipe for ‘badem’, or marzipan. The recipe, from the ‘Recipes and Recollections’ cookbook by St. Leon Women’s Guild, Fair Lawn, NJ., was submitted by family friend, Ruth Bedevian.  According to Ruth’s note at the end of her recipe, Armenians in Jerusalem prepare badem for christenings, engagements, and weddings. Ruth submitted this recipe in memory of her  sister-in-law who welcomed her as a young bride. Years later, Ruth served this at her own daughter’s bridal shower.

When I was describing badem to my aunt Arpie, she recalled her mother making this recipe for special family occasions, but said they called it ‘lubsounia’ in their Dikranagerdtsi dialect. She also remembered that traditionally, it was cut into diamond-shapes.
Soon I'll be heading to NJ to attend my niece's bridal shower, so I thought I'd try my hand at making a simpler version of badem. If my taste-testers give this a thumbs-up review, I might make this for the shower guests. 
Badem, my short-cut version

My Badem-Making Experiment:
Almond paste, rose water, and mini cutters
As an experiment, I bought an 8-oz. can of almond paste (found in the baking aisle of my local grocery store). It was already sweetened, so that eliminated the need for powdered sugar. I did, however, want the rose water flavor, so I added ½ tsp. of rosewater to the prepared paste and kneaded it in. Unfortunately, it wasn’t nearly enough for the rose flavor to stand out.

I gathered the paste into a ball, flattened it with the palm of my hand, and sprinkled a little powdered sugar on the work surface to help keep the paste from sticking. I then used a rolling pin to gently roll the paste to about ¼ inch thickness.
Rolled almond paste and mini cutters

Instead of cutting the rolled paste into diamond shapes, I bought a box of adorable mini ‘romance’-shaped cutters (hearts, wedding bell, flowers, and a butterfly) from a local arts and craft store to create shapes suitable for a bridal shower.

I baked the marzipan shapes on a parchment-lined baking sheet at 250°F for about 30 minutes. If I’d had decorative sprinkles, I would have added them before baking. The 8-oz. can of almond paste yielded just about 30 pieces.
Almond paste creations before baking
Taste-wise, I don’t know how this short-cut compares to the real thing, but it certainly is a suitable substitute if you’re in a time crunch.


If you’d rather prepare badem the traditional way, here’s the recipe from Ruth Bedevian:



Badem (Marzipan)
Ingredients:
12 cups ground blanched almonds
1 cup rose water
6 cups powdered sugar
Silver nonpareils for decoration

Directions:
1. Grind almonds to resemble coarse semolina.
2. Mix sugar and almonds, then add rose water, kneading mixture until well-blended.
3. Shape into wedding bells or flowers and decorate with silver nonpareils. Bake on a low heat about 200° to 300°F for 10 minutes.
4. Badem should not be baked until brown. Bottoms should not be browned either.


2 comments:

  1. I'm really bad a baking, so I'm wondering: why did you bake for 30 minutes when Ruth's recipe says to bake for 10 minutes?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Ara, 30 minutes was a trial time. Badem was too soft after 10 min.

    ReplyDelete