Sunday, October 14, 2012

Marquesitas, Toledan Almond Gluten-Free Cupcakes for Columbus Day

Toledan coat of arms
When I stepped off the bus onto the cobblestone streets of Toledo, I was transported to Spain of post-Roman times, when it was once the capital of the nation, until the 8th century. The steep paths led me upward through the gates of the fortified town. One of the first sights is the cathedral, where warm statues smiled tenderly at visitors, and a skylight holds figures that peek inside, with their legs dangling impishly over the edge of the dome as if they were leprechauns instead of saints and cherubs. 
Around the corner, silversmiths welcome onlookers as they insert their tools on the handles of swords to decorate them with intricate, black designs, just like others did centuries before them.
My visit though enchanting was short, as I hurried to take the hour-long bus ride back to Madrid to catch a plane. Someday I will return to visit the Toledan home of  the Cretan il Greco, a famous Spanish painter.

History of the Marquesita

These delicacies were created in Sonseca, by the son of a Toledan candymaker, who had learned the craft of making mazapanes (almond paste candy) from his family. His wife was from Sonseca, so he set up his own candy store in that neighboring town. 

300 grams finely ground almonds
5 eggs
250 grams powdered sugar
zest of 1/2 a lemon

Sift the finely ground almonds and powdered sugar together. Beat eggs separately, then combine both. Add the zest of 1/2 a lemon, and pour into mini cupcake papers. Preheat oven to 500 degrees F. As soon as you place the cupcakes in the oven, lower it to 350 degrees and bake for 10 minutes. Yields 36 cupcakes.

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