There are two particular confections that, apparently, I shouldn’t enjoy so much. Whenever I tell people that I love these candies, they make faces at me. And then I get sad.
One is candy corn. I know, you’re making the face. But with this one I understand. It really is just ridiculous. I must’ve been born with a defect.
The second is marzipan, which, in reality, is kinda similar to candy corn, but it’s not as punch-you-in-the-teeth-sweet, and features almond paste as its main ingredient. Now, not as many people make the face when I mention this one, but I often feel surprised when someone tells me they enjoy marzipan as well.
Marzipan is most commonly used to make little fruits and other figures on cakes. Or, disturbingly, babies. Ew.
You can also find it covered in chocolate. Yaaay!
I will say, however, that more than marzipan itself, it’s the almond paste I really love. Although almond paste already comes sweetened, and is perfectly suited for molding into shapes, marzipan contains even more sugar, and some other stabilizing ingredients, such as egg whites. Both almond paste and marzipan are used frequently in European cakes and pastries. Almond paste is also whipped with butter and eggs to make tart fillings. Ees nice.
Here, I’ve used almond paste as part of a crumb topping for apple bars. It imparts a delicate flavor to the crunchy crumb.
Marzipan Crumb Apple Bars
1/2 cup faux butter or non-hydrogenated shortening
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 cup flour (all-purpose, whole wheat pastry, or white whole wheat)
2 large baking apples (I used Golden Delicious. Granny Smith or Honey Crisp are just a couple other suggestions)
2 Tbsp sugar (brown or white)
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
5 oz almond paste (about 1/2 a cup. You can find it in the baking section of the supermarket, or in bulk at cake supply stores)
1/2 cup sugar
6 Tbsp faux butter or non-hydrogenated shortening
3/4 cup flour (again, all-purpose, whole wheat pastry, or white whole wheat)
1) To make the crust, preheat the oven to 350°F. Line an 8×8 inch baking pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil (this is not really necessary, but it will make cutting the bars easier). Beat together the butter and powdered sugar until well mixed. Mix in the flour until just incorporated, and press the mixture into the bottom of the pan, and a little up the sides. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until it is lightly browned. Leave the oven on.
2) To make the filling, peel the apple if desired (I didn’t), and chop into small pieces. Mix with the sugar, lemon juice, and cinnamon. Cook over medium heat for about 15-20 minutes, until the apples are tender. It’s pretty much like apple pie filling.
3) To make the crumb topping, tear the almond paste into chunks and place them in a food processor. Add the sugar, and mix well. Then add the butter. You’ll have to help the process along with a butter knife. Then add the flour. Do not process too much when you add the flour. Use the butter knife mostly to mix it in.
4) Spread the apple filling over the crust, keep it within the edges. Then top with the crumbs. I used some crumbs as border patrol, to keep the filling nice and tidy. You’re going to have a lot of crumb topping. If you don’t want to use it all, you could save it for a pie, coffee cake, etc.
A schtickle of cinnamon doesn’t hurt either.
5) Bake 20-25 minutes, or until the topping is lightly browned. Allow to cool completely. I refrigerated mine, which made the cutting process even easier. Use the parchment paper or foil to lift it out, and then cut.
It’s like eating a little piece of apple pie with a hidden twist of almond. A bit of European pastry tradition meets American fare. When I ate this one, I felt, for lack of a better word, classic. You could use other fruit in this bar cookie, such as berries, peach, apricot, plum, pear, or mango. Additionally, you could actually make an apple pie (or lots of other fruit pies) with this crumb topping. In reality, that was my first thought. But these are a lot easier to give away :)