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Marzipan Mushrooms

I love using marzipan to model cake decorations; typically, I make woodland decorations - mushrooms, pinecones, holly berries, and holly leaves - for my bûche de noël.

Pressed for time, I ended up buying a tube of marzipan tonight for these mushrooms that will go on the dessert tray tomorrow night. But I've had homemade marzipan and it is undeniably better than this. Still, these will suffice, especially since these will be plucked from the tray by excited little hands!  Once I formed the mushrooms, I dusted them with a mixture of unsweetened cocoa, cinnamon, and ancho powder.

Homemade marzipan
225g (8oz) granulated sugar
180g (6oz) ground almonds
40g (11/2 oz) icing sugar (confectioners sugar)
pinch of cream of tartar
1 egg white, lightly whisked
5 tbsp water
1\2 tsp vanilla extract

Put the sugar and the water in a heavy based saucepan and cook on a low heat until the sugar has dissolved. Add cream of tarter and bring to the boil until the sugar reaches 116oC (240oF)- soft ball stage. Remove from the heat and mix the mixture until it turns cloudy, then add ground almonds and vanilla extract. Add to the pan the egg white and return to a low heat and stir for a couple of minutes.

Place the icing sugar on to a marble surface and pour over the mixture. Work in the icing sugar with a palate knife. Cover the mixture with plastic wrap until cooled. Once cooled knead the mixture until smooth.

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