I first tasted peanut marzipan in the Bronx one steamy summer circa 1987. Whitney Houston's I Wanna Dance with Somebody was playing on my Walkman. We were visiting a family friend, one of those transient people who passes in and out of your life almost unremembered. He produced a package that contained what in essence was a dense cake of powdered peanuts. He said it was Mexican marzipan. When you peeled off the cellophane, there was a thin film of grease clinging to it from the oil that had separated from the nuts in the summer heat. The marzipan was delicious! It reminded me of the inside of a peanut butter cup, but less sweet. Thirteen-year-old me wasn't a whole lot different than I am now. The package didn't last long in my hands.
Since then, I've never seen or even heard of peanut marzipan. It created a bit of confusion for me many years later when confronted with traditional marzipan, which has an entirely different flavor and texture, and isn't made from peanuts at all, but rather almonds. It's soft, sweet, and moist, almost perfumey with almond flavor. Peanut marzipan is sandier, crumblier, and, well, peanuttier. Whenever I mentioned marzipan made of peanuts, no one knew what the hell I was talking about.
Vindication came last week. Better 25 years late than never. I was at the library flipping through the cookbook My Sweet Mexico by Fany Gerson, which contains recipes for traditional and modern Mexican desserts. Right there on the page was a recipe for none other than peanut marzipan. Could it be, I thought? I swung by the store for some peanuts on the way home and whipped up a batch that afternoon. This never happens, but it was EVEN BETTER than what I remembered. Like peanut butter fudge but much easier to make. It had all of the peanut flavor and almost none of the guilt (there's always a smidgeon of guilt when you're enjoying yourself a little too much).
My youngest is a peanut butter fiend and he was enraptured at first bite. I promised he could have a bigger piece for dessert later on. In fact, all I saw of his dinner that night was an empty plate. He only had eyes for peanut marzipan. He's his mother's son, after all.
Two ingredients and five minutes in the food processor and you're done. You can make it with other nuts, too.
2 cups plain roasted unsalted peanuts, skins removed (not raw)
1 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
Grind the peanuts in a food processor until finely ground. Add the sugar and continue to process, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally, until peanuts release their oil and mixture clumps together. For me it took somewhere in the 3-5 minute range. You can roll the mixture into balls or form small disks by pressing it into a circular cookie cutter until compacted. Carefully remove cookie cutter and wrap in wax paper. Can be stored at room temperature for a little while at least, though long-term storage should probably be in the fridge.