Monday, January 9, 2012

Maraschino Marzipan Kisses

On a day-to-day basis I lead a 90% Paleo Diet lifestyle. I try to avoid heavily processed foods, sugar, legumes (especially soy) and most of all gluten. Although, I believe a diet isn’t really a success without the freedom to cheat every now and then- so I continue to bake regularly. And on the rare occasion an awesome gluten-free alternative recipe comes across my path I get twice as excited about it.
 A couple months ago a wonderful co-worker of mine discovered a gluten-free baking book she was kind enough to let me borrow.  The book was Blackbird Bakery Gluten-Free 75 Recipes for Irresistible Desserts and Pastries by Karen Morgan. There were so many delicious looking things inside I could hardly decide where to start. Morgan’s Maraschino-Marzipan Kisses is the first recipe I’ve attempted from the book. These were so amazing, I definitely didn’t care or notice the fact there isn’t any wheat flour or butter used! They were super quick to whip up and baked in a flash to a perfect soft-cookie texture.

I ended up making these cookies twice in one week for two separate events. On the second batch I ran out of sliced almonds, so I rolled the cookies in finely chopped pistachios; and talk about a happy accident. You could easily substitute pitted fresh cherries when they come back in season for the maraschino (also a good idea if you have sensitivities to food coloring). 
This recipe and many others are available at 

The Night Circus

          Le Cirque des Reves is the setting for an unusual battle between two magicians (Celia and Marco), who are shrouded in as much mystery as the reader. The Circus of Dreams, is a black and white world as temporary as permanent, as dangerous as it is intoxicating to its patrons. The circus will open at nightfall and close at dawn. Inside, you will find tents filled with impossibilities beyond your most imaginative dreams.
            From the moment a ring burns and dissipates into Celia’s left ring finger to officiate her entrance into the competition, you become fully aware of the life-long commitment our magician’s face. The limitations and rules are existent, but relatively undefined. The construction of the story, and the emotional arch of the character’s, mirror that of marriage, both challenging and sometimes dissatisfying, but also utterly beautiful. The novel was an unexpected romance that won over my heart.
             Sometimes speculation can be an awful habit. I unintentionally attempt to predict every event when reading, gloating over my correct guesses while simultaneously spoiling the ending for myself. If you suffer the same, let go while reading The Night Circus. I was totally surprised by the ending. Without giving anything away- all the pieces were there all along, but is was nice to watch them finally fall together in a not-too-neat image of sacrifice and love.
            What made The Night Circus so successful is Morgenstern’s attention to detail. Her cast is incredible, both those living within the world of the magical attraction and the outsiders profoundly affected by its majesty. With so much detail and the novel spanning thirty years I’d offer one tip: don’t worry about getting lost within the non-linear timeline; the stars align in a most unexpectedly sweet way. You will be enraptured in Morgenstern’s world of black and white, and anxious to wear a red scarf for the rest of the winter season.
As a side note: I still can’t believe the first draft of The Night Circus was written for National Novel Writing Month! For those of you who don’t know about NaNoWriMo, it is a thirty-day challenge to write a novel or 50,000 words during the month of November. As a writer, this novel is a book of about dreams and a product of a seemingly impossible dream come true. The Night Circus is proof intensely hard work will pay off.