1lb ground hazelnuts (they can be tricky to find ready ground in the shops, unless you happen to find yourself in France, where ground hazelnuts seem as common as ground almonds - lucky them. So just dry roast whole blanched hazelnuts until slightly golden, then leave to cool before blitzing in a processor)
1lb icing sugar, sifted
2 egg yolks
2 whole eggs
2 tbsp Grand Marnier (or Cointreau, Triple Sec or any other orange liqueur you've got hiding at the back of the drinks cabinet)
2 tsp fresh orange juice
Finely grated zest of 1 orange.
- Place the eggs, egg yolks and sugar in a large heatproof bowl over a pan of barely simmering water.
- Whisk the eggs and sugar just like when you are making a sabayon or zabaglione. The important thing is that the mixture doesn't get too hot and curdle, so keep the flame low. The mixture will become pale, frothy and quite thick.
- Whisk in the Grand Marnier, orange juice and zest until thoroughly combined.
- Take the bowl off the heat and leave to cool.
- Whisk again and pour in the ground hazelnuts.
- Combine thoroughly and knead to form a firm paste.
- Wrap the marzipan in clingfilm and leave to rest somewhere cool for at least 2 hours before rolling out.
- When you're ready to use it, warm some apricot jam in a saucepan with a tiny bit of water. Once it's hot, you can pour it through a sieve if you like, but I often don't bother.
- Roll out your marzipan to a thickness of about half an inch.
- Brush your cake with the hot apricot jam and place your rolled-out marzipan over the top. Cup the marzipan around the edges of your cake with your hands and then pat it down the sides so it is properly stuck. Smooth it over with your hands or use a couple of plastic smoothers for a more even surface.
- Leave the marzipan for a day or 2 (or longer) to harden. This will make icing your cake much easier.
- If you are using roll out fondant/ sugarpaste to ice your cake, stick it on to your marzipanned cake with a light brushing of brandy.