In an electric coffee grinder, grind the blanched almonds in small batches into a fine powder. Sift the powder through a fine sieve into a large bowl. Regrind any almond particles remaining in the sifter. In a bowl whisk the egg whites with the salt until they are frothy, whisk the vanilla, and stir the mixture into the almond powder. Sift in 3 cups of confectioners' sugar, 1 cup at a time, kneading the mixture together in the bowl, and sift enough of the remaining 1 cup sugar to form a smooth, pliable dough (add more sugar if the dough is too sticky). Quarter the dough and wrap each piece tightly in foil. The marzipan paste keeps, chilled, in an airtight container for up to 8 weeks.;
Work with 1 piece of marzipan at a time, keeping the remaining marzipan covered tightly. Pull off a piece of marzipan paste, form it into a smooth ball by rolling it between the palms, and shape it gently into the desired shape. (Wipe hands occasionally with a damp cloth.)
To achieve the texture of citrus fruit roll the marzipan shape over a fine grater or sieve. A small wire loop may be pressed into the back of the thickest part of the marzipan if the marzipan is for hanging.
Let the marzipan dry on sheets of foil overnight and with a large soft watercolor brush dipped in the food coloring, tint it as desired. If a shading effect is desired add the second coat of coloring before the first coat dries.
Let the marzipan dry on foil for 2 days and with a fine soft water color brush dipped in the food coloring add any fine details desired. Wooden picks, broken into small pieces and colored with food coloring, may be used to form the stems of fruits. Cloves may be used to form the blossom end of fruits such as apples and pears. White paper may be cut and colored with food coloring to form the leaves for fruits, or any small leaves may be used.
After the marzipan has had its final coat of food coloring let it dry on sheets of foil for1 day. The marzipan keeps, chilled, in an airtight container for up to 8 weeks.
Yield: 25 small marzipan shapes
Recipe courtesy of Gourmet Magazine