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Gastronomic Gifts III: Marzipan-Topped Shortbread Cookies

[There’s just nothing like a homemade gift for the holidays.  This year, with the purse strings a little tighter than usual, I’m determined to make at least a few in my kitchen–and thought I’d share my ideas in case you’d like to partake, too.  ]


Isn’t synchronicity the darndest thing?  You know, that phenomenon when things just seem to occur around the same time. . . because. . . well, just because.  Like when you learn a new word, and suddenly “schadenfreude seems to pop up in all the newspapers you read.  Or “pecuniary” makes its appearance in every magazine article you see about the faltering economy.  Save money with a “stay-cation”? It was mentioned at least once on every financial-advice show that aired in the past week. (And how about antediluvian, lachrymose, arachibutyrophobia?  Okay, maybe not so much.)

I love synchronicity; I figure it’s the closest I’ll ever get to having intuition.  Years ago, during a carefree Christmas shopping spree (entirely unlike this year, what with all the pecuniary limitations to my budget), I was meandering along a downtown Toronto street engrossed in a lachrymose daydream, probably about being bullied in gradeschool.  For some unknown reason, I remembered a former classmate, and wondered what had become of her.  In the midst of my reverie, there came from behind me a sudden, staccato warbling, like the sound an antique radio makes when being tuned: “Ricki?! Eeeeoooooouuuuwwww! RICKI HELLER, is that you–??”

Yep, you guessed it: that very classmate, whom I hadn’t seen in over 30 years.  We hugged,  we excitedly exchanged updates on our lives, we traded phone numbers and swore to keep in touch–then never heard from each other again. But that sure was some synchronicity in action!

If you’ve ever thought about someone you haven’t seen in a while, only to receive a phone call from them that day; if you’ve ever had a dream about finding a $20 bill and later picked up a stray piece of paper in a parking lot that happened to be a $20 bill; if you’ve ever loved a novel by a particular author and then happened to be seated next to that author on your next flight across the country; if you’ve ever been reminded of an old love while surfing the internet only to discover the profile of said love on your Classmates page–well, if you’ve ever experienced a seemingly unrelated coexistence of two meaningfully related things in any context at all, then you, too, have experienced synchronicity.  And last weekend, there it was again!

In my previous Gastronomic Gift post last week, I mentioned a pioneer of the now-booming Toronto culinary scene, Bonnie Stern. That long-ago (seems positively antediluvian, in fact) cooking class was my only encounter with Ms. Stern in person; and her recipe for Brandied Apricot-Ginger Spread was, it turns out, the only recipe of hers I’ve ever reproduced at home.

Until now.

Why, just this past weekend, there she was again, peering out at me from the crinkled pages of our weekend National Post!  Not only that; in the photo, she proffered some startlingly attractive shortbread cookies: rich, buttery freeform mounds topped with shards of  Toblerone chocolate bars.  I decided on the spot that I had to re-create those bars, but what to use instead of the Toblerone?  I wanted something similar–a mix of chocolate and a sweet filling–but nothing quite as sticky (and nothing producing any arachibutyrophobia, of course).  Aha!  Marzipan-filled Ritter Sport!

In response to  Amanda’s comment in the last post, I used my own Life in Balance Buttery Spread in place of the butter in these cookies.  The result was a slightly-sandy-on-the-outside, slightly-chewy-on-the-inside, not-too-sweet and very decadent-tasting cookie.  And while they don’t melt in your mouth like tradtional shortbread, the combination of  rich dough and chunks of chocolate-covered marzipan is truly enchanting.  The HH said he thought they weren’t “really” like shortbread as they didn’t taste “buttery” enough, but that didn’t stop him from scarfing down three of these babies in quick succession.

And while this recipe is a bit more decadent than my usual baked good, hey, it’s the holidays!  Gotta live a little.  Which, of course, will lead to the inevitable overindulging and weight gain. . . so as you bake up your own batch of these, you can think of me, smile, and enjoy a satisfying little taste of schadenfreude.

Mum, you know your readers would never do that!  Besides, I think I’ve had enough schadenfreude to last a lifetime, what with Chaser smirking at my cone over the past three weeks.”

Oh, and since these are intended as a holiday gift, after all, I thought they’d be a perfect submission to the Eat Christmas Cookies event hosted by Food Blogga this month. There’s already a huge array of cookies posted on the site for you to check out!

And since Holler and Lisa are asking for festive photos this month for their No Croutons Required event, I’m going to submit this Santa-bordered photo as my contribution as well.


Other Gastronomic Gifts:

GG I: Fudge Two Ways

GG II:  Brandied Apricot-Ginger Spread

GG IV: Jam-Filled Turnovers

GG V: Tutti Fruiti Christmas Cookies

GG VI: Pumpkin Butter

GG VII: Chocolate Macaroons in a Flash

Last Year at this Time: Pumpkinseed Shortbread Buttons

© 2008 Diet, Dessert and Dogs


No comments yet to Gastronomic Gifts III: Marzipan-Topped Shortbread Cookies

  • Sue

    Is that a lovely nineteenth century, soft-paste porcelain plate those mouth watering cookies grace?


  • ooh ooh, these might be the perfect base for some dark choc-raspberry kisses I found!!

    so if i didn’t have the spelt or brown rice flour, could i use a WW pastry or white whole wheat? or should I cut in some AP?


  • Yes, synchronicity is quite a phenomenon, if you ask me.



  • these cookies look awesome!! i love marzipan a lot. i really want to try and make my own. i think that would be so much fun. i’d make little marzipan muffins and cookies.

    i am broke this year, so i’m giving food as gifts as well. i’m using my bread machine to crank out a few cool bread flavors for my friends. everyone loves food, so i know it’s still a good gift!


  • Here I was feeling all erudite, because I knew all the words… then ya had to spoil my fun by throwing in “arachibutyrophobia”… oh well, at least I learned a new word!

    Oh gosh, I love those Ritter bars. The dark chocolate marzipan ones are so amazingly rich. Your cookies look amazing as well!


  • I have some Schadenfreude and some Ritter Sport, which means I’m gonna make these!


  • Oh, “stay-cation.” That one kills me. Isn’t that just a euphemism for staying home and doing the same thing? 😉

    Thanks for the delicious home-made cookies. I wouldn’t mind being on your Christmas gift list.


  • Liz

    My oh my. These look and sound delicious. I’ll take a “slightly-sandy-on-the-outside, slightly-chewy-on-the-inside, not-too-sweet and very decadent-tasting cookie” over a normal shortbread anyday!


  • Oh, if only I could get my hands on that marzipan bar… That alone sounds amazing, so I can only imagine how good these cookies must be!


  • I do that all the time with new words! I learn them and then I hear them everywhere and I get so excited about it!!! Then people look at me funny..wonder why? 😉

    Heavenly cookie recipe my dear!!! I have never tried one of those bars before.


  • Aside from the great looking cookies and recipe, what a wonderful vocabulary refresher!


  • It’s always amusing when random things suddenlt merge to make sense.

    Those cookies sound like a wonderful holiday treat. You are full of wonderful ideas Ricki!


  • Courtney

    If these are even half as good as the fudge you posted earlier (which I made yesterday), then they will be *amazing*! Can’t wait to try these too!



  • Sue,
    I actually have no idea! (it was a gift). I’m pretty sure that it’s not 19th century, though, as my sister, who gave it to me, bought it about 15 years ago–from a store. 😉

    Homemade marzipan would be a fabulous gift. . . so much work involved, I’m sure it will be well-appreciated!

    You ARE erudite! I can’t even remember where I found “arachibutyrophobia,” but I thought it was such a cool word, I had to type it out! 😉

    OOooh, juicy gossip–do tell about the schadenfreude! 😉 And of course, nothing beats a good Ritter Sport for best chocolate flavor!

    Yep, I’m guessing you’re right on that one! But don’t tell the kids 😉

    Can’t you get them where you are? I sense a contest coming on. . .

    Glad you liked the fudge! I will enjoy vicariously, as I’d better not make another batch (it tends to *disappear* rather quickly).


  • I am with CCV on arachibutyrophobia – cool new word – but I feel I need to learn how to pronounce it before I can even use it!

    Lovely pictures and love the sound of those bikkies – sounds like the reappearance of bonnie stern in your life was a fortunate case of synchronicity – I just tend to get bad luck with synchronicity so I can do without it!


  • I am fascinated by synchronicity! Someone lent me “The Celestine Prophecy” a few years ago and I loved it (most of it); I read the whole book in less than 24 hours. Couldn’t put it down!

    Your cookies are stunning! I am a shortbread fanatic!!


  • Marzipan bar…fantastic. I adore shortbread too, I will have to make some this year 🙂


  • I love Ritter Sport peppermint and marzipan bars. Amazing job veganizing these cookies. Your version sounds FAR superior to the original. 🙂


  • These look amazing–a combination of so many great flavors. I love marzipan, so this one is perfect for me. They look nice and rich.


  • Oh my, the cookies look SO beautiful!


  • bex

    The cookies look great!


  • cookies topped with marzipan chocolates? that sounds glorious! mmmmmmmm!


  • Oh these sound amazing! Holiday cookies are just so fun to eat! I so often have that sort of thing happen…in fact, the night before I broke my foot I went into this long story about a dance injury that was very similar… maybe I should think about finding a 50 on the street or something!


  • every one of these looks delicious! why are holiday cookies SO good!


  • Have you ever read “There Are No Accidents”? A great treat for those who want to explore synchronicity further. Even though it was Hamlet who said “There are more things in heaven and earth…” it could have been Jung. ; )

    Love the shortbread. I’ve been thinking about baking up a batch of it myself all week. Seriously.

    Happy December, Ricki!


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