Marzipan and Chocolate Ice Cream


When I was a kid, my parents had some strange ideas about how one caught a cold. These ideas weren’t just unique to my parents. Everyone thought them true and from what I can see when I visit my family now, many people still believe them. For example, if you take a shower and wash your hair, you should never walk outside with your hair wet during the winter, because you will catch a cold. You also must always make sure to cover your neck with a scarf when it’s cold, because otherwise you’ll catch a cold. You must never, ever drink refrigerated water in the winter, because you’ll…well, you get the idea. Never mind that winter temperatures only got down to the upper 40s and lower 50s.


Basically, the thought is that there are two things central to getting sick with a cold: cold temperatures (stay away from them) and your throat (keep it warm and covered). This combination created a particularly nasty villain in the fight against colds: ice cream in the winter. Which is why when I was a kid, there was no ice cream anywhere to be found outside the summer months. No ice cream shops, no ice cream trucks, no ice cream in grocery stores.


Come summer, the two main providers of ice cream on the island would open their stores. For many years there were only four flavors: chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, and rose. Then at some point, someone imported a brand of Italian gelato called Pahit Ice and from that point on we had all kinds of flavors and flavor combinations available to us. My and my sister’s favorite was chocolate hazelnut. My mom’s was always stracciatella: vanilla ice cream with chocolate chunks. My dad gravitated towards fruit flavors, like prickly pear or passion fruit.

There was never a marzipan and chocolate flavor, though. Which is strange, given that marzipan features prominently in our cuisine. So, here’s a recipe for a great version of it. It features a chopped up bar of the insanely addictive Ritter Sport dark chocolate with marzipan. If you can’t find it, just substitute with your favorite milk or dark chocolate.

Just remember. Enjoy your ice cream while it’s summer, because once the winter comes, you risk getting sick with a nasty cold if you indulge in it.


Marzipan and Chocolate Ice Cream – Adapted from Love and Olive Oil


5 egg yolks
7 ounces almond paste, crumbled or cut into large chunks
2/3 cup sugar, divided
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 Ritter Sport Dark Chocolate with Marzipan, coarsely chopped


Place a fine mesh sieve over the top of a medium sized bowl. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, with an electric mixer, beat egg yolks, 1/3 cup sugar, and almond paste together until smooth, about 2 minutes.

In a saucepan, combine cream, milk, remaining 1/3 cup sugar, and salt. Cook gently over medium heat, stirring regularly, until sugar is dissolved and mixture just starts to steam (small bubbles will start to form around the edges, but do not let it boil). Remove from heat.

Slowly whisk some of the warm cream mixture into the egg yolk mixture, 1/3 cup at a time, until about half of the cream mixture has been incorporated and mixture is warm to the touch.

Pour the egg mixture back into the saucepan, while whisking, and return to medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens slightly and coats the back of a spoon, about 5 to 7 minutes, or until it reaches approximately 165 to 170ºF. Do not let it boil. Pour mixture through sieve into medium sized bowl, discarding any solids. Let mixture cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate until completely cool, at least 3 hours or overnight if possible.

Churn ice cream in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Add the chopped chocolate bar just before ice cream finishes being churned. Serve immediately (it will have the consistency of soft serve ice cream) or put ice cream in freezer container and freeze.


Almond Cake

Almond Cake

There’s a great cookbook, called “Baked Elements: Our 10 Favorite Ingredients,”  written by the two guys that own the bakery Baked in Red Hook, Brooklyn. In it, they provide different recipes that use their favorite ingredients, including malt, caramel, and bananas. The book is great, the recipes fantastic, and the 10 favorite ingredients are spot on but there is one glaring omission, in my opinion: almonds, or more specifically almond paste.


Something magic happens when you take almonds, mix them with sugar, and grind them into a paste, commonly known as marzipan if the sugar percentage is sufficiently high. They turn into something so addictive (at least for me), that I’ve been known to eat a whole stick of marzipan in one sitting. In fact, making marzipan is the first food I ever prepared.


I was six years old when one day in school, our teacher taught us how to make amygdalota, marzipan that’s shaped into round fruit shapes, rolled into granulated sugar, and decorated with a single clove to resemble the fruit stem. I have never forgotten that day. The excitement of making the delicious amygdalota, bringing them home to show my mom, and then eating them on top of it all was just too much joy to ever forget it.


Since then, I have loved anything and everything that uses almond paste, like this recipe for almond cake. This is an amazing cake. It’s moist and tender, with a distinct, but not overpowering flavor of almonds.

I have good news and not-so-good news about the cake. First, the good news. This is a single bowl cake, so it’s easy to make. The bowl in this case is the bowl of a food processor. Everything is added in order and processed to make the batter. It takes just a few minutes and you have very little to clean afterwards.

Now, the not-so-good news. You know how sometimes you’ll find an amazing recipe that uses really healthy ingredients but somehow makes something that tastes really rich and sinful? Well, this is the opposite kind of recipe. It uses lots of butter and eggs and sugar but the resulting cake tastes light and harmless. I’m not sure why, but I’d like to think that it’s the almond paste. In my book, it makes everything better.


Almond Cake – Very slightly adapted from

1 1/3 cups (265g) sugar
7-8 ounces (198-225g) almond paste (not marzipan)
3/4, plus 1/4 cup (140g total) flour
1 cup (8 ounces, 225g) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cubed
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 large eggs, at room temperature

1. Preheat the oven to 325ºF (162ºC). Grease a 9- or 10-inch (23-25 cm) cake or spring form pan with butter, dust it with flour and tap out any excess. Line the bottom of the pan with a round of parchment paper.

2. In the bowl of a food processor, grind the sugar, almond paste, and 1/4 cup (35g) of flour until the almond paste is finely ground and the mixture resembles sand. It will only take a few seconds but make sure there are no clumps of almond paste left.


3. In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining 3/4 cup (105g) of flour, baking powder, and salt.

4. Once the almond paste is completely broken up, add the cubes of butter and the vanilla extract, then process until the batter is very smooth and fluffy.


5. Add the eggs one at a time, processing a bit before the next addition. Scrape the sides down as needed.

After you add all the eggs, the mixture may look curdled (mine didn’t). It’ll come back together after the next step.

6. Add half the flour mixture and pulse the machine a few times, then add the rest, pulsing the machine until the drying ingredients are just incorporated, but do not overmix.

7. Scrape the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake the cake for 65 minutes, or until the top is deep brown and feels set when you press in the center.

8. Remove the cake from the oven and run a sharp or serrated knife around the perimeter, loosing the cake from the sides of the pan. Let the cake cool completely in the pan.