Project #61 – Marzipan Panda

One of my excellent co-workers put together a really thoughtful fish picnic lunch at the office to today for the two of us. We had smoked salmon, salmon paste, and herring of various kinds along with veggies, crackers and cheese, and I am a fan of all cracker based meals. This is my fourth year in a row of going without meat except for fish or eggs for Lent (a.k.a the Nothing with Feet Diet); she’s a pescatarian so it’s the one time of the year when we eat the same things.

All of my remaining co-workers have pretty mainstream food tastes that don’t include fish from a tube, so they each declined heartily. One even watched us eat with the same expression a cat wears as it watches its owner take a shower. “How can you do that to yourself?” Well, that means more herring for us, I guess.

To show my gratitude for the lovely meal I made my generous co-worker a panda out of marzipan, one of her favorite desserts.

I used about 1/3 of a stick of marzipan. It’s best to have everything at a uniform level of texture and moisture, so I always knead it for a few minutes and remove any stubborn lumps.

I dyed a little more than half of my lump of marzipan black using about 1/4 teaspoon of food coloring. Flatten out your piece to maximize the surface area and pour the dye on top and give it a few minutes to soak in. Knead until it is a uniform color and use a paper towel to soak up the excess dye.

Black food coloring will stain almost anything it touches, so work off of a surface you don’t care about and wear gloves if you need to have your hands and fingernails looking nice in the near future. I washed my hands 4 or 5 times and may hands are still gray and my fingernails make it appear that I’ve been mining coal by hand.

I formed the body and legs from the black marzipan and saved a little extra for the ears, nose and eyes. I washed may hands (again!) and made the head and tummy out of the remaining undyed marzipan. I assembled everything while the marzipan was pretty moist. The black dye is pretty aggressive, so I left a few smudges.

Lastly, I had some of the white marzipan left, so I colored it green to make some bamboo. I let the stalk the panda is holding dry out for a few hours so that it would hold its shape.

I don’t know if I would be excited about eating something that has so many fingerprints on it, but at least I washed my hands. I hope my co-worker likes it. Too bad I didn’t think to dip it in chocolate ahead of time.

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