Mazarin

It doesn’t take much to send me off on a hunt for a recipe—new, old, improved, holiday, ethnic, your mom’s favorite this or that, etc.  When I started dating Roger, my 1st generation, 100% Swedish boyfriend/future husband, it was only natural for me to search for recipes so that I could make him an authentic Swedish meal that didn’t involve an Americanized version of Swedish meatballs.  I didn’t have the luxury of a Google search engine back then, but my research turned up lots of recipes for lutefisk and sill.  I discovered that lutefisk is prepared by soaking it in water and lye(!) for several days which turns it into a jelly-like consistency and that sill is salted herring.  It suddenly made sense to me why the ratio of Italian restaurants to Swedish restaurants in this country is about 100,000 to 1.  In case you think I’m being overly critical, I once saw a t-shirt in a Swedish gift shop that was a play on the McDonald’s arch with its message of over so many billion burgers served.  Over the arch on this t-shirt it said, “Lutefisk Burgers – 1 served.”  So, even the Swedes have a sense of humor about one of their national dishes!

Giving up the idea of making Roger a Swedish dinner, I concentrated on finding a good Swedish dessert recipe instead.  I stumbled on a story about how Swedish rosettes were a delicate, incredibly delicious treat traditionally made during the holidays.  The recipe said it was time-consuming but so worth it.  Aha!  Here was a way to impress Roger with my baking prowess and knowledge of his Scandinavian heritage.  When the special rosette iron I had to order arrived, I set out to make a batch.  There was batter to make, and dipping, and deep frying the rosettes, one at a time, and being very careful not to break the rosettes when they came off the iron.  I was very pleased with my results and couldn’t wait until Roger came over so that I could surprise him with them.  I carefully arranged them on a plate and sprinkled confectioners sugar over them.  When he saw them, I fully expected him to say something like, “Wow, I haven’t had these since I was a kid!”  Instead he said, “I’ve never seen these before—what are they?”

Many years passed before I gave Swedish food another thought.  Then, in 1999, Roger and I went to Sweden to visit with his Swedish cousins (shout out to Bengt & Agneta and Stefan & Felicity!).  We were treated with very special meals and family celebrations.  At almost every event, there was a very special dessert called mazarin.  This confection was oval-shaped with a thin, tender pastry crust with the most wonderfully moist almond, almost custard-like cake inside, finished off with a confectioners sugar glaze.  Being a ground almond/almond paste fan, I had hit the Swedish jackpot and couldn’t get enough of them.

I left Sweden with several mazarin recipes in hand, translated from Swedish (“wipe the eggs with the sugar”!??) which I needed to figure out and which I needed to convert from deciliters and grams into more familiar measurements.  After we got back home, Agneta e-mailed me with yet another mazarin recipe from a Swedish cookbook which said it was one of the seven cookie recipes that all Swedish housewives should know how to make.  Armed with my Stockholm mazarin recipes and Google searches which were now available to me, I compared and tweaked recipes until I came up with a mazarin that quite favorably measures up to those I had in Sweden.

On May 1, the Swedes celebrate May Day to welcome the return of longer sunlit days after the long dark days of winter.  There is dancing around the May pole, family get-togethers, special meals—and, of course, mazarin.

Mazarin

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Ingredients

Pastry Crust

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 6 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 2 cups flour

Mazarin Filling

  • 8 oz. almond paste
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tbl. sugar
  • 6 tbl. flour
  • 1/2 tsp. almond extract

Confectioners Icing

  • 1 tsp. of butter
  • 1 1/4 cups confectioners sugar
  • 2 to 3+ tbl. milk
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla

Directions

Pastry Crust

Spray 22 to 24 3″ oval baking tins with a baking spray which includes flour.  The oval tins are hard to find and very expensive, so you can substitute mini muffin pans.  You will need at least three, and possibly four, mini muffin pans.

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy.   Beat in flour.  Using a digital kitchen scale, measure out balls of dough weighing 7/8 oz. for the oval tins (or 1/4 oz. dough for the mini muffin pans).  With floured fingers, press the dough evenly onto the bottom and up the sides of the pans you are using.  Set aside.

Mazarin Filling

Using the same large mixing bowl as for the pastry (no need to wash), beat the almond paste to break up and soften.  Add the softened butter and beat until combined.  Beat in the eggs one at a time until smooth.  Add the sugar; beat.  Mix in the flour and almond extract and beat until smooth.

Place the oval tins back on the scale and zero out the reading.  Add one ounce of filling to each tin.  (Note:  I don’t have a weight measurement for the mini muffin pans.  If you fill them to just slightly under the top edge of the pastry crust (approx. 1/8″ under), you should be fine.  During baking, the filling will rise up a little higher than the pastry crust but will fall back down to be approximately level with the top of the crust after cooling.

Bake both the oval tins and the mini muffin pans at 400o F for approximately 12 to 14 minutes.  In my oven, the oval tins were baked to perfection at 14 minutes.  Prior to my finding the oval tins, I made the mazarin using Wilton mini muffin pans and found that they, too, were perfectly baked after 14 minutes.  I have found that the muffin openings in the Wilton mini muffin pans are slightly larger than those of my older mini muffin pans, so do watch the baking carefully.  I would start checking around the 10-minute mark.  The toothpick test works fine here—you want to see a tender crumb clinging to the toothpick rather than bone dry.

Oops! One's missing! Dangerous to leave pastries unattended with kids around.

After cooling on cake rack for approximately 10 minutes, turn over the tins, lightly tapping to get the mazarin out.  Finish cooling on rack and frost with confectioners icing.

Confectioners Icing

Whisk the butter and confectioners sugar and enough of the milk to get your desired consistency.  It shouldn’t be too loose—you do not want the icing to run off the side of the mazarin.  It should just sit on the top of the mazarin within the pastry border.

Source: A frantastic original

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