Toot – Marzipan Mulberry
Hurricane Sandy huffed and puffed and blew through the East Coast on Monday and in her wake left a trail of heartbreaking woe. I was among the lucky ones who didn’t experience any hardship save for dealing with the freaky fact of the NY subway shutdown, but many people and businesses were hit hard. We New Yorkers are damn resilient but it does feel like it will take a long time to recover from this – kind of like how it felt in the eerie aftermath of 9/11. In circumstances like this, one’s mind doesn’t necessarily make a leap to: “let’s write a blog post about the Persian marzipan mulberry confection!” but promises were made (hi Norma!) and there’s the prompt of a bake sale to help a lovely lady (more on that below,) and so it’s all good in the end. And with that, let’s talk about:
Toot! What a fun word. In any language. Let’s say it again twice: toot toot! (This one’s for you Veronica!) In Farsi, toot is what we call the sweet and juicy and very popular mulberry fruit. Sundried Mulberries are also popular and available year round as a delicious snack that goes just marvelously with hot tea, and makes a terrific trail mix.
Since leaving Iran, I have not had a single mulberry, but when we lived there, I used to climb up the trees in my family’s fruit garden in the summer and gobble up as many mulberries as I could all while trying to zone out the high-pitched scolding of the woman who took care of us and who considered my behavior distinctly unladylike. If she only knew that she was thus rudely interfering with what was destined to be my brief window of mulberry-gorging opportunity, perhaps she may have allowed me to enjoy being a greedy tomboy in peace.
So now, Toot is also what we call the marvelous marzipan confection that is made to resemble this delicious fruit. It uses dreamy ingredients like rosewater and cardamom and requires no baking: just some prep work and then some zen hands-on assemblage. Toot is typically served at weddings and it is also made for the Persian New Year. In fact, the pictures you see here are from the batch that Maman and I made this past Norouz.
(I won’t forget that batch. We didn’t have blanched almonds so per this handy dandy guide I blanched and peeled and roasted our almonds. The process was …. well, to paraphrase David Foster Wallace (RIP), it was a fun thing that I hope I’ll never have to do again. Admittedly though, the sweet smell of roasted almonds was delightful. )
We’re going to make a fresh new batch of toot for whoever makes the highest bid on it at the bake sale organized by Veronica to help Suzie. So if you’ve been looking at the pictures and thinking to yourself “boy oh boy, I needs me some toot” then head on over to the bake sale and make a bid. It is for a good cause, y’all! And need I remind you: toot is totes delicious!
Of course, we have the recipe as well, as always. And this time, we even have a video! Woot! Toot!
- 1 1/2 cup slivered almonds or 2 cups ground almond
- 1 cup powdered sugar or confectioners sugar (to mix with the ground almonds)
- 1/2 cup granulated white sugar (to roll the “mulberry” to cover)
- 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 2-3 tablespoons rosewater
- slivered pistachios (approximately 1/3 cup)
- Using a spice grinder or food processor, finely grind almonds. You should end up with 2 cups of ground almond powder.
- Mix ground almonds, confectioners sugar and cardamom in a big bowl. Fluff and blend mixture with a fork to evenly mix the ingredients. Gradually blend in the rosewater, 1/2 teaspoon at a time, and work the paste with your hands to mix well. Set aside for half an hour.
- Take a small amount of paste and roll between your hands to form a hazlenut-sized ball. Flatten the ball between palms then using your fingers form it into the shape of a mulberry.
- Roll the mulberry shaped dough in the granulated sugar until all sides are lightly covered with sugar. Re-form into mulberry shape if needs be. Insert sliver of pistachio as a stem. Repeat process until you run out of paste. (We’ve uploaded a how-to video for you here which should shed some light on the matter.)
The downside of toot is that it dries out rather quickly. The upside is that since they are highly addictive and delectable you won’t really have to deal with the trouble of having any left to store. But let’s say you live in a household with highly disciplined people and you have a bunch left, then what you do is that you cover the lot tightly with plastic wrap and store it in an airtight container or in a cookie jar in a cool dry space. Don’t leave them out al fresco, is what we’re trying to say here.
Make it, and enjoy it, and noosheh jaan!