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Toot (Iranian Marzipan)

Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Yields Makes 50
Fragrant rose water perfumes traditional Iranian sweets made of ground almonds and sugar shaped to look like mulberries.
Fragrant rose water perfumes toot — traditional Iranian sweets made of ground almonds and sugar shaped to look like mulberries — from Fariba Nafissi at Zozo Baking.
(Mariah Tauger/Los Angeles Times)
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Toot means mulberry in Persian and this fragrant and jewel-like Iranian marzipan pays homage to the beloved fruit. Toot can be enjoyed all year but it is often made to celebrate festive occasions like Nowruz and weddings. The almond paste is prepared with freshly ground blanched almonds, perfumed with rosewater and shaped to resemble a mulberry. The almond extract used here is not traditional but can be added to taste for a deeper almond flavor. They are beautiful left natural or you can color them with saffron water or gel coloring. Shaping toot for Nowruz is a fun activity for children and adults alike. Serve toot with a cup of tea to sweeten your mouth and for a sweeter year ahead.

1

Place the 150 grams (1 ¼ cups) slivered almonds in the bowl of a food processor and finely grind to a powder the size and texture of granulated sugar. Add the powdered sugar and pulse a few times, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a spatula in between, until well combined and no pieces of powdered sugar are visible. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl and drizzle in the almond extract, if using.

2

Stir in the rosewater, 1 teaspoon at a time, and gently knead with your hands until a soft dough forms. Be judicious with this so your dough doesn’t get too wet. (If you plan to use saffron water for color [see Note below], use a little less rose water here.) The marzipan is ready when it no longer sticks to your hands or to the sides of the bowl. If using saffron water or gel coloring to color the marzipan, refer to the Note below. If keeping the toot plain, go ahead and divide the marzipan into two balls, and cover one ball with plastic wrap so it doesn’t dry out.

3

Place the other ball on your work surface, gently knead a couple of times and evenly roll into a ¾-inch-thick, 12- to 14-inch-long rope. If the dough sticks a little you can very lightly dust your hands or your work surface with a little powdered sugar. Using a knife, slice the marzipan rope into ½-inch-long pieces; you should have about 25.

4

Roll one piece into a ball, then place the ball on your work surface and, positioning your thumb and index finger over the ball as if you’re going to pinch it, rotate the ball clockwise while gently pressing down to form into a cone shape (like the shape of a mulberry) with a flat bottom. Place the granulated sugar in a small bowl, then roll the toot in the granulated sugar and stick an almond sliver on the flat end like a stem. Repeat with each piece and the remaining marzipan.

5

Transfer the toot to a serving platter and cover with plastic wrap. Store in the fridge for up to one week and serve chilled.

Notes:
If using saffron water for color: Place one ice cube in a small bowl. Using a mortar and pestle or between your fingertips, grind the threads to a fine powder. Sprinkle the saffron powder over the ice cube and leave out to fully melt — this is your saffron water. This will make more saffron water than you’ll need here. You can store saffron water covered in the fridge for up to one week and use it in stews and rice dishes for perfume and color.

Working in a bowl, flatten the marzipan a little for a more even surface. Drizzle on about ½ teaspoon of saffron water. Using gloves so as not to stain your hands, gently knead the marzipan to evenly distribute the color. You can drizzle more color but be mindful not to get it too wet. Carry on as above to shape the mulberries.

If using gel food coloring: Place a toothpick or the tip of a knife in the gel and add a small amount to the marzipan. Work in the color as with the saffron water above and shape into mulberries as above.

Almonds: Slivered blanched almonds are easier to find than whole blanched almonds, but whole blanched almonds can also be used. Do not use almonds with the skins on. Store-bought almond flour is also not a great choice as it doesn’t have the same texture or taste as freshly ground. It’s always a good idea to have a little more ground almond powder on hand in case you accidentally add too much rosewater and the dough gets too wet.

Rosewaters: Not all rosewaters are made alike and it is very important to use a good quality, fragrant rose water here, like Cortas or Sadaf (Lebanon).

Adapted from pastry chef Fariba Nafissi of ZoZoBaking Studio.