Monday, July 12, 2010

Making: Mazapán in Toledo

June has come and gone - an altogether crazy month for me.  I managed to take (and pass!) my qualifying exam and stop over in five different countries in four weeks . . . something I probably won't do again.  I'm not complaining - I know I've been thoroughly spoiled in having the opportunity to see and experience so many different places.  The last two weeks of my travels I spent with my sister, wandering through Spain, one tiny, meandering, hot, and colorful street at a time.  Don't you just love the hydrangeas and colored tiles of that balcony above?  We found that on a little random street in Toledo.  But I said this post was going to be about mazapán, and so it shall.

Mazapán is the Spanish version of marzipan, made of sugar and finely ground almonds.  I'm holding a couple Toledan mazapán confections baked either plain (left) or with fruit perserves (right).  Toledo's mazapán is famous, and it can be bought at virtually any street corner in that beautiful little city-on-a-hill. 

Nuns are often the artisans behind the little confections, as this little diorama in a storefront shows.  Actually, nun-made-sweets were a theme on our trip through Andalusia: there were many convents that offered sweets for sale.

This is a sign we found on the walls outside a Franciscan convent.

And there's the door you'd knock on to purchase some sweets!  We found this to be the case also in Madrid, Granada, Córdoba, and Sevilla.  Sometimes you had to ring a buzzer and give the password, dulces, to be let in for a purchase.  Other times you could just buy nun-made-sweets pre-packaged at a confection shop.

 This, my friends, is a detail on a mini-cathedral made entirely of mazapán.  The cathedral was on display at a Santo Tomé shop - one of a couple in Toledo.  If you're ever in Toledo, I'd recommend buying a box from Santo Tomé.  Their mazapán is excellent and always beautifully boxed for travel.

A dragon crafted of mazapán in a handy tin in a Santo Tomé shop.  Of course I packed a few sweets to take home myself!


Marian said...

OK, now A. and I HAVE to go back to Spain. I have many happy memories of Spanish hot chocolate, churros and tapas from our honeymoon, but we didn't go to Toledo. This situation obviously must be remedied. Those little nuns weren't marzipan, were they? I'd feel a little weird about eating one, though then again Mexicans eat candy skulls on the Day of The Dead and I think that would out-weird even this :).

BTW, email is coming up. I've spent the last two months thinking that I need to write you a real email and then putting it off because I had the approximate energy of a wad of cotton. No more of that now!

Marianevans said...

I LOVED Toledo - I think, if I had to do our trip over again, I would actually live in Toledo and take a day trip out to Madrid, that's how much I loved it.

Well, I think *I'm* the one that owes you the email! Off I go...