Saturday, October 3, 2015

Recipe: Sugar Free Marzipan (Easy, Low Carb & Gluten Free)

Marzipan and marzipan cookies are a favourite holiday treat of mine. Had I known how easy Marzipan was to make I'd have started doing this years ago.

Sugar Free Marzipan

2.5 cups Almond Meal
1 cup Swerve or erythritol
2 egg whites
1/2 tspn Pure Almond Extract
1 tspn Rosewater (optional)


  • Using an electronic food processor or mixer add the almond meal and Swerve

  • Alternative sweeteners like Splenda or Stevia can be used but Swerve is the best for taste and carb value in confectionery. 
  • Swerve does have carbs but as a sugar alcohol it does not affect blood sugar and can be discounted from the net carb values. 
  • Pulse the dry ingredients until a fine powder is formed

  • Separate your eggs and put the yolks asside - these will not be used in the recipe and should be used in another dish

  • Add the egg whites, Almond extract and Rosewater if using then pulse until a crumbly dough is formed
  • Knead on a clean non stick surface - if required dust with a small amount of almond meal to prevent sticking. 

  • Once properly kneaded a slightly sticky but smooth dough should be formed
  • You can use marzipan in cookies, cakes and pastries but they also make beautiful cake decorations or sweets on their own

  • Here I'll show you how I prepared these giftable marzipans using a Mooncake mold but any cookie cutter or pastry plunger cutter works perfectly
  • Traditional mooncake molds look like large wooden paddles that you press cakes and pastries into to form presentation shapes for Mid Autumn Festival in Chinese communities, they can be fiddly to get cakes out of. 
  • Modern day plunger molds are perfect for forming marzipan and other thick pastries and cost less than $20 for a set. They can be bought online direct from China or via domestic US online stores like Amazon

  • Roll out your marzipan to the desired thickness, remember this is a heavy sweet due to the nut content so 1cm (~1/2 inch) is more than enough
  • Press the outside of the mold flat to your board and then plunge the decorative pattern into the marzipan, hold for around 2 seconds and then lift the plunger and remove the marzipan
  • You may need to push the plunger back down and carefully peel the marzipan off the design, particularly for intricate patterns
  • Place in an air tight container and refrigerate until consumption
  • If desired dip into 100% cocoa chocolate which has been tempered, but these are delicious on their own
  • Makes around 18 1 inch square confections - each serving is 96 calories, 8.3g fat and 1.1g net carb

Thursday, October 1, 2015

St George's Market, Belfast Northern Ireland

For better or worse I travel regularly for work but there's usually a chance to steal a little time to see the country side wherever I am. For me tourism always has a food component and while I was visiting Belfast I discovered a thriving market in the center of the city. 

Built in the 19th century the market has that distinct Victorian look of community buildings in the United Kingdom but word is that the site was the location of the central Belfast market as far back as the 1600s. Named the best indoor market in the UK in 2014 this is a great stop for the food tourist to Northern Ireland.

Open every weekend the market is a lively shopping mecca thrumming with tourists and locals buying fresh ingredients and eating lunch. On Saturdays the market offers local food and crafts as well as live music, making it a great stop during a day out in Belfast. On Sunday the emphasis is more on local Crafts - making it a good stop for souvenirs but less lunching options. 

There are a number of competing Hop On Hop Off bus tours in Belfast all of which stop conveniently outside the market. Be warned though at lunch time these buses are packed to the brim with hungry site seers who pour in to the market 100 at a time. For the best choice of goods and to avoid the crowds try going to the market early while tourists are still off seeing the Titanic Museum. Make sure to get to the market before 3pm as vendors will be clearing out and the market closing between 3-4pm.

The open warehouse style market makes it easy for vendors to load in and load out and provides large open seating areas to enjoy a warm snack. It reminds me of Victoria Market in Melbourne, Australia with stall owners hawking their wares and a happy bustle of commerce. 

As well as the standard Green Grocer fare - fresh fruit, vegetables, fish and meat there are a number of fantastic specialty stalls and global specialties. 

Local farmers and producers sell small batch items like jams, chutneys pickles and cakes. My pick of the Irish baked goods has to be the slices though - buttery rich jam, fruit and nut slices abound and all are delicious. This is a country that obviously relishes in morning and afternoon teas. 

Innumerate bakers offer fresh loaves, for a taste of the local stuff try the Irish Soda Bread - delicious with hot warm soups and stews. Regular European migrants and recently resurging economies mean that there are many Italian and French bakery options. Some of the bakers also offer fresh sandwiches and pressed paninis. 

Hot food stalls offer international snack foods like pies, pasties, crepes, paella and curries. 

Irish beef is definitely worth stopping for - tasty and grass fed I've never eaten so many good burgers as I did in Ireland beating out the US at their own game. 

The market is also a great place to pick up spices and hard to find ingredients. Wagyu beef, fresh seafood, exotic spices and more are fantastic for the cook or the foodie in your life. 

There's wifi in the markets as well as a few stalls selling battery packs and sim cards which also makes it a convenient stop for travellers. If you get sick of the crowds there's a brasserie that overlooks the market and a great little pub across the road. 

All in all a great stop with lively community and excellent food. 

St George's Market

East Bridge St
Belfast BT1 3NQ

Indoor food and craft market with live music
Great for tourists