Honeyed Marzipan, Date, and Toasted Sesame Truffles

Recipe and photo by Tami Ganeles Weiser Yield:  70 candies
Prep Time:  20 minutes Cook Time:  0 minutes

Honeyed Marzipan, Date, and Toasted Sesame Truffles

Traditional desserts in the Maghreb (Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia) and the Mashreq (Libya, Egypt, Palestinian Territories, and Jordan) and even in tiny but widely multicultural Israel, are very, very sweet, often based on local honey and dates. This recipe, which incorporates a homemade almond marzipan, offers a satisfyingly rich tidbit, as pretty to look at as it is simple to make—and eat. They’re delightful paired with grown-up offerings like mint tea or strong coffee, and they’re also fun to make with kids.

Ingredients

12 (7 ounces /200 grams) pitted soft Deglet or Medjool dates

1 teaspoon (7 grams) date syrup (silan) 

1½ cups (15 ounces/425 grams) sweetened almond paste, room temperature

2½ tablespoons (55 grams) honey

1 teaspoon rosewater

¼ cup (24 grams) almond flour 

¾ cup (78 grams) confectioners’ sugar, sifted

1 cup (140 grams) toasted sesame seeds, a mixture of beige and black (see Kitchen Tips)

1 teaspoon (3 grams) Maldon salt or any large-flake sea salt, for garnish, optional

Instructions

  1. Combine the dates and date syrup in the bowl of a small food processor and pulse for 25 to 30 seconds, until completely smooth. The mixture will have the consistency of a thick paste.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the almond paste, honey, rosewater, and puréed date mixture and mix at medium speed, until fully combined.
  3. Make the marzipan by mixing the almond flour and confectioners’ sugar in a small bowl to combine. Add half the sweetened almond flour the almond-date paste in the mixer and mix at low speed to combine. Add the remaining almond flour and mix again to combine.
  4. Prepare a large piece of parchment paper and place it on a work surface. Position 2 large rimmed baking sheets side by side next to it. Spread out the toasted sesame seeds on one of the baking sheets. Place a small bowl of chilled water nearby.
  5. With a soft spatula or pastry scraper, scrape down the side of the mixer bowl, and scoop the date-almond paste onto the parchment.
  6. Using a tiny ice cream scoop or measuring spoon, scoop out about 1 teaspoon of the date-almond paste. Cover the remaining paste with plastic wrap to it from prevent drying out.  Wet your hands lightly with the water. Roll the 1 teaspoon almond-date paste into a ¾-inch ball. Dip your hands in the cold water again and roll the ball in the toasted sesame seeds to coat. Place on the prepared (empty) baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining date-almond paste until you have rolled all of it into balls and coated all of them with sesame seeds. Cover the completed truffles with plastic wrap as you go to keep them from drying out. (If you wish, you can scoop out 3 or 4 truffles at a time, roll them, coat them, and then place them under the plastic wrap.) Sprinkle the truffles with the salt just before serving.) The candies will keep, tightly packed in a closed container at room temperature, for 3 to 4 days.

Kitchen Tips

Toasted sesame seeds are available commercially, but if you can’t find them or if you prefer to toast the seeds yourself, pour the seeds into a frying pan or cast-iron skillet and set over medium heat. Toast, shaking the pan, for 10 to 20 seconds, or up to 1 minute, until fragrant. Watch carefully so the seeds do not burn.

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