Foodiva's Kitchen: We Should Cocoa: Apricot-Mocha Brownie Marzipan Bars

Sunday, April 24, 2011

We Should Cocoa: Apricot-Mocha Brownie Marzipan Bars


Chocolate flows in deep dark, sweet waves, a river to ignite my mind and alert my senses.
~Anonymous~

Isn't it funny how there are days when you surf the net to check out your blogger friends' offerings and you click on links upon links and finally end up on a page you that makes you pause and think, hmm...I'd really like to be a part of that? For a number of uber-surfers, that's a frequent occurrence but not so for me. Maybe I don't click on that many links, I tend to always gravitate and return to sites that drew me to them in the first place, either for their prose or their photos but most of all, for their owner's personality and friendship. On this one particular day, I stumbled upon the "We Should Cocoa" event hosted by the lovely Choclette of Chocolate Log Blog and Chele of Chocolate Teapot. It's a monthly cooking event involving that most scared of ingredient, chocolate, and one other compulsory ingredient chosen by the hosts, and guess what? Here I am, contributing a chocolicious recipe to the said event.



This  month's extra ingredient is marzipan. I was rubbing my hands in sinisterful glee because I happen to love marzipan! I had never made it myself, of course, nor ever baked with it. But I recall its dense, rich, creamy taste inside Christmas stollens I had eaten in Germany, and in tiny fruit forms (made completely out of marzipan) whenever I've travelled to Thailand. That's really about it, my marzipan experience is sadly very limited.

So why the glee? It's my chance to try and make my very own marzipan(!) and pair it with an original recipe out of my chocolate-drenched mind. After a bit of research, I found out that marzipan was such a breeze to make. I made just a small block for starters and when it didn't crack after overnight chilling and rolling out....I was more than thrilled! (I'm so easy to please, can you tell?)

                Top: Dried apricots and apricot paste                      
Bottom L: My homemade marzipan                                                              R: Mocha brownie on almond crust

For several years now, I've had this rather sinful recipe for chocolate brownie that's laced with strong coffee. It's soft and oh-so-squealy-gooey inside but crisp on top... as I said, it's a brownie headed for Hell. I wanted to wrap that brownie in my homemade marzipan and fashion it into bars but after a bit of thought, that just seemed too dense overall. My pantry held some beautifully soft, dried apricots so after blitzing them in the food processor with some honey, milk and more marzipan, I got this lovely apricot paste. Spread that on top of the brownie, cover it with a sheet of marzipan and we have the rather mouthful Apricot-Mocha Brownie Marzipan Bar. Oh yes, I also baked the brownies on top of an almond crust to give the sweet a bit of crunch and make it look, you know, a bit more bar-like. You can never have too much almonds anyway, can you? 

 Bottom: Faux coffee beans made out of marzipan and rolled in cocoa powder

For decoration, I rolled some marzipan into coffee-bean shapes, dusted them in cocoa powder and placed one on top of each marzipan bar.  



Let me tell you, there are recipes I like and there are recipes I really like. This is one of them. Every layer turned out perfectly and the flavors (refreshing apricots on top of gooey chocolate and underneath marzipan) melded really well together. That's not normal, especially when it's the first time I make something. So you see, if I had never landed on the 'We Should Cocoa' page, I never would have come up with this bliss!

Apricot-Mocha Brownie Marzipan Bars
1st/bottom layer: Almond crust
60g butter
100g all-purpose flour
60g ground almonds
60g sugar

1. Preheat oven to 180C. Line a 8x8-inch deep baking tin with parchment paper, or use a loose-bottomed tin for easy release of cake.
2. Rub butter into flour until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add almonds and sugar and rub further with your fingertips until well incorporated and forms a loose dough. You can also place the ingredients in a food processor in the above order to expedite the process.
3. Tip the mixture into the baking pan and press down with your fingers to flatten it. This is the almond crust. Bake for 10 minutes and set aside.

2nd layer: Gooey Chocolate Brownie
150g chocolate, chopped
60g butter
1 teaspoon instant coffee powder
2 eggs
50g sugar
50g all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Melt the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Once melted, remove from heat and stir in the instant coffee powder until dissolved. Leave to cool.
2. In another bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar until pale and creamy. Stir in the cooled chocolate mixture. Add the flour and fold gently to incorporate. Stir in the vanilla extract.
3. Pour mixture over the top of the semi-baked almond crust and bake at 180C for 15-20 minutes. Leave to cool completely. Preferably, leave the cooled cake in the refrigerator overnight.

3rd layer: Apricot and Honey Filling
1 cup dried apricots, chopped
1 tablespoon honey
4 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons marzipan (see recipe below)

1. In a food processor, blitz the apricots with the honey, milk and marzipan until you get a homogeneous creamy yellow mixture.
2. Spread the apricot mixture on top of the cooled brownie, flattening with the back of a spoon to create an even layer.
3. Top with a thin sheet of rolled out marzipan. Press down gently until the marzipan sticks to the apricot layer.

4th layer (top): Marzipan
250 grams of peeled almonds
1 cup icing/confectioners sugar
1 small egg white

1. In a food processor, pulse the almonds until you obtain a very fine almond flour.
2. Add the sugar a quarter cup at a time and pulse until very well combined.
3. Finally add the egg white and pulse until the mixture starts to resemble marzipan. Pinch a bit of the dough and press in between your fingers, it should feel soft and pliable.
4. Roll the dough in a plastic film and refrigerate it for at least one hour. After that take it out and place on a clean surface dusted lightly with confectioners sugar. Roll out the dough and fold it two or three times. Flatten it again and return it to refrigerator. The dough is ready to be used when it is no longer sticky. (I left mine overnight)
5. Roll the marzipan flat in between two sheets of plastic film to about ½ cm thick. Cut into an approximate 8x8 inch square and carefully transfer this layer on top of the apricot layer. Press down gently until the marzipan sticks to the apricot layer.
6. Using a sharp knife, cut the marzipan bar into little squares about 2x2 inches each. Wipe the knife every time you cut so the layers of the bar will not run into each other. Serve immediately or store bars in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

48 comments:

spcookiequeen said...

I come over to wish you Happy Easter and look what you've made me. Be still my chocolate loving heart. I so glad when I see others hot finds. I love Marzipan too. I guess I will just toss that diet back out the window until next year. Hope you have a lovely day tomorrow.
-Gina-

Evelyne@CheapEthnicEatz said...

Oh what amazing bars, they look so good. Happy Easter

Raji said...

Wowie...I am floating on chocolate clouds...these brownie bars are looking wonderful. Happy Easter.

Spoon and Chopsticks said...

Really lovely bars. They are mouthwatering.

http://spoon-and-chopsticks.blogspot.com/

Foodiva said...

Gina, my favorite Cookie Queen! These bars are so totally yours. I'm tossing that diet as well, and won't ever resume. Not even next year! Have a great Easter weekend, my friend.

Foodiva said...

Evelyne and Raji, thank you both and Happy Easter to you too!

Trix said...

Poppa Trix happened to look over my shoulder while I was looking at this post, just as I got to your genius little marzipan coffee beans, and when I pointed them out his mouth fell open, and he said "Whoa, she is *so* clever!" Of course I knew that already! You need to open a bakery, my dear.

Foodiva said...

Trix, whoa, Poppa said that? Haha, so honored, truly! When I open my own bakery or cosy cafe someday, I need to open an adjoining gym so that customers (and owner) can consume and work off the calories afterwards. It's the work-life balance thingeymajig, you know! These brownies plus everything else on it are evil...

Evan Thomas said...

Beautiful! Love the foe espresso beans.

yummychunklet said...

These look great! Kudos!

Sandra said...

Ohhh how cute those look, I would eat them in second!:)) Delicious sweet coco treat..yummy!!!
Happy Sunday!

michelangelo in the kitchen said...

Amazing skills you have in pastry making Maya! The brownie marzipan bars are just fabulous and your batons are super sophisticated. It is like looking through a patisserie window in Paris! I imagine a Maya's tea shop in the making, I have to say! Cheers!!!

Cooking Gallery said...

I am not a marzipan lover, but these bars look very pretty and I would be tempted to eat them were they right in front of me...;)!

TheChocolatePriestess said...

I wonder if I could substitute something for the marzipan since my husband is allergic to all tree nuts.

Choclette said...

What do I think? Wow, wow and more wow. Great photographs. Love brownies, love marzipan so these would be delicious anyhow, but with your apricot addition, it must be perfect. Well done for getting your marzipan to work so well - mine cracked terribly. Have since found out I should have kneaded it more. Interesting that you used egg white and I used the yolk. Thanks for participating. I haven't received an e-mail and photo from you yet. Please don't forget it as I'd hate to miss you out.

Cooking Rookie said...

What a beautiful recipe. I especially love the faux coffe beans :-) And it's great to learn about "we should cocoa" - I should check it out. Thanks for sahring!

Tiffany said...

WOOOOOAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH! You had me at marzipan! ... But I love all of the flavors!

Roxan said...

Maya, awesome job! These brownies look SO good, and I love the coffee beans made out of marzipan, what a great idea. I wish I could have one (or two!) of these.

Xiaolu @ 6 Bittersweets said...

I saw another marzipan layer brownie recipe a year ago and totally forgot about it. Yours with apricot looks even better. A great and unique treat!

msihua said...

Wow, what a fun event to be a part of... the marzipan looks so good! "We should cocoa" sounds like a dance we should break out into right now!

chefpandita.com said...

They look too pretty to eat! Love the faux coffee beans :)

Faith said...

These look really delicious, I love the marzipan in there! Apricot and marzipan are such a perfect pair and adding chocolate makes it even better!

the [sugar] apothecary said...

Those coffee beans are adorable! I don't have much experience with marzipan (especially homemade marzipan), but this recipe looks like an excellent place to start. And honey apricot filling?! Sounds amazing.

aipi said...

As I read through your post, the layers of flavors unfolded in my head... no pun intended... especially loved your coffee bean detail :)
US Masala

Jenny (VintageSugarcube) said...

Maya Maya Maya--- Those are the best look'n brownies EVER!! Great pics. Bon Appetit needs to get with the program and feature YOU and some of your creations. :)

Foodiva said...

Jenny, Jenny, Jenny... Oh, I think Bon Appetit IS with the program, they just haven't gotten round to me, yet! Thanks a bunch for that kindest comment, doll ;-).

Steph said...

OMG...these are amazing looking. Each layer is beyond beautiful...but the icing on the cake is really the marzipan coffee beans. Really clever and so well done (and photographed). Kudos!!

Ayush said...

Looks so tempting. Not fair, I just returned from the gym!

alyce said...

Love the coffee bean! Congrats on your top 9!

Jamie @ Wokintime said...

Those look amazing!! And I love what you said about why you return to a site. Yes, it's all about personality and friendship!

Congratulations on your top 9!!

Lisa @ Tarte du Jour said...

These look stunning!!! I wish I had one right now to nibble on while I sip my green tea!

Kim - Liv Life said...

What a stunning bar!! I can't believe you ate your own marzipan, I"m ultimately impressed. I can't wait to see what you come up with next month, congrats on the Top 9!

Spicie Foodie said...

Well you've done it again Maya! Your words and photos have me drooling over my keyboard. I too love marzipan and chocolate well don't get me started on that ;) Your bars are heavenly and I can just picture how great the almond, apricot and chocolate came together. Glad you found this event!

Nourhan @ Miss Anthropist's Kitchen said...

Still unique, but finally a recipe with ingredients I can use haha! Oh how I've missed your blog :)

penny aka jeroxie said...

Awesome looking bars! I wish I had more time so I can join in too.

Foodiva said...

Thanks everyone who stopped by and left their lovely comments. May the Chocolate God bless you all!

Foodiva said...

Nancy, this one is definitely going to April's YBR, I think. I don't think I can come up with a better recipe than this by the end of the month. Will email you soon!

Sarah, Maison Cupcake said...

These are really attractive - and Eastery with the eggs on top!

Magic of Spice said...

Oh wow... definitely sinfully delightful, and gorgeous too :)

Foodiva said...

Sarah, they're actually supposed to be coffee beans... :-). But if they were eggs, they'd probably have to be quail eggs because they're small and brown! Hope you had a good Easter!

Foodiva said...

Alisha, sinful delight. That's what they were!

elle marie said...

Did I tell you how happy I am that you use grams... I went from the US to the metric system and find it easier using a scale ... this sounds nommers...

Lizzy said...

Oh, my these are just beautiful...and I don't think I could resist this fabulous combination of flavors!!!

Suelle said...

I've just found your blog, after reading the We Should cocoa round-up. These brownies look superb! I love the combination of flavours!

Bartelmy said...

Oh, yum! I have to make a vegan version of these!

Aveen said...

Oh wow! These look and sound amazing. Definitely one to bookmark and make for a special occasion. I love the little fake coffee beans, very cute!

Spicie Foodie said...

Just stopping by to say Thanks for participating in April's YBR :)

Foodiva said...

Nancy, it's my utmost pleasure! You know that ;-).

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