This year I thought it’d be a good idea to make some marzipan chickens to share with you, my lovely readers. As you can see from reading at the bottom of this post, there’s a dark story behind the chickens, but for now, I’m just going to tell you how to go about making these lovely (non-chocolate) Easter treats.
I could’ve started by making marzipan from scratch like a good cook…but today I decided that life was too short (and there were 2 packs for £3 in the Co-Op) so I bought some instead.
I started by splitting off a section and dying it orange with red food colouring. I turned the rest yellow.
Roll out the lump of orange marzipan – if it’s sticking, then dust the board and pin with icing sugar in the same way you’d use plain flour if you were rolling out sticky pastry.
Cut out diamonds for the beak and squeeze them together so they’re two pinched triangles making a beak shape. Finally dab on some thick white icing for the eyes, and finish with a tiny spot of black liquorice paste for the pupil. Voila – a little brood of Easter chicks.
I wrote this for a university assignment assignment a year ago:
An Easter Massacre
I loved making marzipan chickens. They were a sign that Easter was round the corner, and I loved Easter. I would paint blown-eggs, I would hunt for the Easter Bunny’s eggs, and then we would have a big family lunch. But most of all I loved making marzipan chickens.
My mother would make a batch of marzipan. She divided it into two lumps, and then used food colouring to turn one yellow and the other red.
I rolled out two balls from the yellow marzipan. A big one for the chicken’s body and a small one for its head. Then I moulded a triangle out of the red marzipan and attached it as a beak. I iced on two white eyes, and then I finished it by dabbing a cocktail stick in liquorice paste and putting a dot for the bird’s pupil.
The smell of almonds wafted round our farmhouse kitchen. My hands had a greasy sheen on them from the marzipan, and for days my fingertips were turning red and yellow from the dye.
I was ten years old when I made my last Easter chicken.
My Grandmother had come to visit. She’d brought Oliver, her Golden Retriever, and had left him outside while she came to chat with us in the kitchen.
We were perched on stools of varying heights. My brother needed a high one to reach the work surface. My stool was lower so that I was at the perfect marzipan chicken-making height, and my sister was in a baby walker squashing a lump of marzipan between her baby hands.
The marzipan chicken production-line was in full swing, which finished with my Mother who took the figurines and arranged them in blue spotted cases. We were working by the aga. In front of us we could see a small orchard through the kitchen window which had eight apple trees in it, and two seedlings we had planted from lunch box apple cores.
A big chicken hutch was in the middle of the orchard – the home of my white rabbit, Houdini, and my brother’s guinea pig, Gordon Bennett.
When we’d made about eight marzipan chickens, we stopped for a break and a chat. My brother wanted to take something to the school Blue Peter bring and buy sale and was negotiating what items he could donate from round the house. Mum said he should take a tray of marzipan chickens.
Suddenly a high pitched squeal shot through the chatter. It was followed by my mother’s own shriek. We stood on our toes to peer out of the window. We tottered on the stools and strained our necks.
In the orchard was Oliver the dog. My rabbit was in his mouth. Houdini had made his last escape from the hutch straight into the jaws of the prowling Retriever. We run outside to the scene of the murder. Houdini’s white fur was soaked with blood. His head swung limply. His eyes had frozen his final panicky stare. My poor rabbit. My darling bunny. My Easter Bunny was no more.
My brother ran to the hutch. Inside was Gordon Bennet. He was lying down. Collapsed. Dead. Dead from shock. He lay on his side, his silly little paws in the air. His small hairy body still and lifeless.
That was the tale of our Easter Massacre. Marzipan chicken making wasn’t the same afterwards. Too many much sadness. Thus ended my pet. And thus ended our tradition.