It is a cold and windy morning here in Norway. It feels like winter with the sun rising at 9:15am and setting again at 3:45pm (I’m not sure I’ll ever get used to such an early nightfall), but we have yet to see a real snowfall. Instead we’ve had lots of hail, sleet, wind, and rain.
Even without the snow, it’s starting to feel like Christmas. People who celebrate Christmas here don't usually cover their house in lights, instead they often hang a Star of Bethlehem in a window or light an advent candelabra that somewhat resembles a menorah. Inside one’s house, it is typical to decorate with stars, hearts, little angles, and Norwegian nisse figurines. The nisse are somewhat like the American Santa, but not as plump and jolly.
As of last Sunday, it's officially advent, a season full of tradition, anticipation, and counting the days till Christmas. Some people light purple candles on the four Sundays leading to Christmas and each week sing a song from the hymn book. Then on Christmas eve, all the purple candles are replaced with red ones. Most kids have their own advent calendar. I grew up with the chocolate kind, but recently I’ve also seen lego and play dough calendars. There is even an advent calendar TV program on NRK, the government-owned tv channel and country’s largest media producer.
Now that the house is decorated. we’ve stared preparing Christmas treats. Today there are four kinds of bread being baked and the house smells wonderful. I’m enjoying a cup of tea from my English Tea Shop Advent Calendar and these wonderful chocolate treats we made the other day. These bite-size chocolate marzipan truffles are easy to make and absolutely delicious! I didn't like marzipan much as a kid, but a few years ago, I tried a German marzipan covered in dark chocolate, and I was sold! The trick is to make small pieces and dip them in really good chocolate. I hope there will be some left in the cookie tin for Christmas.
Have a wonderful Friday!
Chocolate Marzipan Truffles
7oz (200g) Whole Raw Almonds
7oz (200g) Powdered Sugar
1 Egg White
7oz (200g) Good Quality Chocolate Bars (I prefer dark chocolate with 70% cocoa)
Unless you purchased blanched almonds or almond meal made from blanched almonds, the first step is to remove the almond skins.
Bring a pot of water to a boil. Let it boil for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the raw almonds and boil for one minute. Do not cook them longer than one minute, the almonds will soften.
Drain the almonds and rise with cold water. Rub the almonds dry with a towel (this may stain the towel). Using your fingers squeeze the almonds out of the skins. Let the almonds dry for at least 24 hours before using.
Grind the almonds in a nut grinder (our “mandelkvern” looks somewhat like a parmesan cheese grater). You can use a food processor or coffee grinder, just make sure the almonds are ground into a fine powder. Once the almonds are ground, add the powdered sugar and grind again. You may need to do this in several batches depending on the size of the grinder.
Add the egg white and knead the dough until it is smooth and no longer crumbly. The dough will be somewhat sticky, but make sure it does not feel wet.
You can press the marzipan into a form or roll the dough with your hands into the desired shape.
Melt the chocolate of your choice in a double boiler. Dip the marzipan shapes into the chocolate, top with walnuts to decorate, and set on parchment paper to harden for several hours, up to one day. Store in a container in a cool, dry place.