This project was displayed at Sicilian’s Revenge 2014 at the Shire of Port Oasis (Huntington, WV), and previously at the Tournament of the White Hart 2013 at the Shire of Port Oasis.
Although marzipan fruit is a perfectly period project to work on (marzipan originated in Spain in the first century, and started to be shaped into fruit a century later in Italy) this particular project was inspired by a thought experiment that arose after working on my 16th Century Household Poisons, specifically the recipe titled “Sleeping Apple”
The “Sleeping Apple” from Neopoliani Magioe Naturalis doesn’t resemble an apple, but the concept of a sleeping apple immediately conjures the image of the apple from Snow White that was poisoned with a sleeping curse. Upon reading the original Grimm fairy tale again I was surprised to discover that the apple wasn’t cursed, but crafted.
“Then she went into her most secret room — no one else was allowed inside — and she made a poisoned apple. From the outside it was beautiful, white with red cheeks, and anyone who saw it would want it…
…Now the apple had been so artfully made that only the red half was poisoned.”
The words “artfully made” and “from the outside” really struck a chord with me and connected the dots between the crafted core from Neopoliani Magioe Naturalis and the popular Italian subtlety.
Voila! A variation that looks more realistic, if you used a clove for the stem instead of marzipan it would almost be possible to pass it off as a real apple.
While the story of Snow White was published after period and is German in origin, it is important to point out that the word “italian” in late period Europe was synonymous with poisoner. In other words, both the sleeping apple recipe and the art of marzipan fruit both came from late period Italy — and by associating both of these features with the Evil Queen, it made the character seem all the more evil.
This is all fun and entertaining conjecture of course, not research. Nonetheless I thought it would be fun to follow through with this thought experiment and try my hand at crafting a realistic marzipan apple with a secret core inside.
For this subtlety I chose to make a safe edible core using the same ingredients and techniques one might find in cake pops or Oreo truffles. I then carefully enclosed the core in fresh marzipan that I had dyed with a pale yellow food coloring and allowed it to harden slightly at room temperature. After the apple had began to harden I added further detail by painting on red food coloring using a brush and food color markers.
A side-by-side comparison of the two types of apples you can make. Both are fun to make and even more fun to eat. I recommend letting the apples dry for a short while before you pass them out to friends to allow the marzipan to stiffen slightly and hold their shape better.
Fill one half with a dollop of the filling mixture and put the halves together pinching the edges.
I often make these poison apples as a tribute to my late mentor Fiachra Bonesetter, who suggested that I create something fun and tangible to help spread my knowledge of period poisons; but my all time favorite specimen was the one that I crafted for Sicilian’s Revenge 2014, during which I had the great fun of feeding it to Their Majesties! -evil laugh-