I CAME IN QUIETLY to set the cake on his desk as a surprise.
Allora! What was he was holding in his hands?
Why did he conceal it quickly?
For a moment his face was like thunder.
Then he pretended I had caught him with a gift he intended to give to Niccolo and me.
Later, of course, when we unwrapped his gift of a shiny black pottery jug, I knew it was not the one I had seen that morning....
YOU WILL NEED equal amounts of ground almonds and powdered sugar.
For me, I use two cups of each.
I mix them together, and then add the whites of two good eggs (to which I have added a half teaspoon of vanilla and the same of "almond extract") and blend this until all is smooth.
THEN you will take your very clean hands and knead this mixture in the bowl, for several minutes, until the sugar becomes a heated just with your hands, and everything becomes very happy together.
NOW you will dust your table with more powdered sugar and you will there knead this mixture a little more, incorporating perhaps a little more sugar powder if it is too "sticky", until it all comes together to make a "ball".
WRAP this nicely, and keep cool in your refrigerator until you are ready to use on your cake for Christmas or -- as I will show you next time -- on your Christmas panforte. When it is on your cake the marzipan will dry out and keep without refrigerating; but while it is wrapped to keep it moist, it is best to use within two or three weeks, because of the egg whites (this is what Nonna Dottorelli told me long ago, when I was a new bride).