Kransekager

Kransekager (krahn-scr-kair) is a superbly decorative traditional Danish cake, served on festive occasions such as zoeddings and family celebrations. The marzipan rings are usually filled with pet its fours, glace fruits, chocolates, small presents or a bunch of flowers, depending on the occasion.

6-8 SERVINGS

1 lb. freshly ground blanched almonds

1 lb. castor sugar

2 oz. icing sugar , sifted

1 teaspoon bitter almond essence

5 egg whites

ICING

6 oz. icing sugar

4 tablespoons water

2 oz. castor sugar

2 fl. oz. water

Preheat the oven to moderate 350°F (Gas Mark 4, 180°C).

Line three large baking sheets with non-stick silicone paper and set them aside.

In a large, heavy-based saucepan, combine the ground almonds, castor sugar, icing sugar and the bitter almond essence.

With a wooden spoon, beat in half of the egg whites.

Set the pan over low heat and cook the mixture, stirring constantly, gradually adding the remaining egg whites. Cook the mixture for 20 to 25 minutes, or until it is thick but will drop easily off the spoon. Scrape the bottom of the pan frequently with the spoon, and never let the mixture boil as it burns very easily.

Remove the pan from the heat. Fill a large forcing bag, fitted with a large star-shaped nozzle, with the almond mixture.

If the mixture is too hot to handle, wrap a clean cloth around the forcing bag.

Pipe two 8-inch rings on each baking sheet, spacing the rings well apart as they spread slightly during baking.

Place the baking sheets in the oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the tops of the rings are golden brown and firm to the touch.

Remove the baking sheets from the oven and set the rings aside to cool com-pletely. When they are cool, carefully remove them from the baking sheets and peel off the paper.

Meanwhile, make the icing. In a small saucepan, combine the icing sugar and the water over low heat. Cook the icing, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the icing to cool, beating occasionally with a wooden spoon.

To make the syrup, in a small saucepan dissolve the sugar in the water over moderate heat, stirring constantly. Bring the syrup to the boil and boil until it reaches 220°F on a sugar thermometer, or until a tcaspoonful of the mixture dropped into cold water forms a soft ball. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.

Fill a small forcing bag, fitted with a small plain nozzle, with the icing.

Place the marzipan rings on a flat sur-face. Pipe zig-zags of icing on each ring and set the rings aside until the icing has set and hardened.

When the icing has set, place one of the rings on a flat serving plate. Using a pastry brush, coat the underside of another ring with the syrup and place it over the first ring. Repeat the process with the other rings.

Set the cake aside for 30 minutes, then either fill it with the chosen filling, or serve it plain.

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