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Christmas Recipe: Lorraine Woodman's No-Cook Marzipan

December 21, 2023 12:39 IST
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"Christmas is a time for celebration for every community, especially the Christians," says Lorraine Woodman, a retired teacher living in Andheri, north west Mumbai.

"The day begins by attending mass and saying 'Happy Birthday' to Jesus. After the mass, the festivities continue with wine, good food and sumptuous sweets."

Being part of an Anglo-Indian family that loves to party, her day is never complete without dancing, singing and loud music. While growing up, Lorraine's participation in the preparations began at least two weeks in advance. It was about making wine, rich fruit cake, kulkuls, neories, chocolates, milk toffee and heaps of sweets.

"The fun part was sitting in groups and sharing in the sweet-making with Christmas carols and peppy songs like Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer... playing in the background." The song is her favourite, since her husband's name is Rudolf. They have been married for almost 50 years and have two sons and four grandchildren.

"Our elders did the main preparation and supervised our artistic efforts. It always was a competition to see who made the best sweets. Cooking of the delicious food would commence a few days before Christmas with everyone opening old grandmothers' recipe books to learn the correct way.

"The home would be filled with wonderful aromas of Pork Vindaloo, Sorpotel, stuffed chicken served with a tasty filling. Yorkshire Pudding instead of bread was made to make the occasion more special. My family, being Anglo-Indian, would make the age-old favourite (meat) ball curry and yellow rice.

"Sweet-making was my specialty, and I took the challenge to make each piece not only tasty but pretty too. Marzipan made from crushed cashew nuts or almonds with sugar and essence, beautifully coloured and moulded, was a joy to make. It always brightened the sweet plates.

"The Christmas tree, coloured with lights and poinsettia flowers, made the excitement reach the very fibre of our being. To me it's the best festival ever, but sadly it comes just once a year," adds Lorraine, who will bring in the festival singing Jingle Bells and Silent Night, joyfully shouting out cheers with a glass of chilled wine in her hand.

Lorraine taught at the Christ Church School, Byculla, south central Mumbai, for 15 years. She also ran art/craft, speech and drama classes from her home for over three years, teaching 100 students in four batches. She has many other interests like sewing wedding dresses for friends, creating dresses for Barbie dolls, making fancy cakes and masks for street vendors during COVID-19. Lorraine loves dogs. And cooking. She offers a simple recipe for Cashew Marzipan.


Servings: 25-30


  • ½ kg cashews
  • ½ kg powdered sugar + extra for dusting 
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 tsp almond essence
  • 1 cup rose water or as required, just enough to bind
  • 2-3 food colouring of choice, each marzipan can be in a single colour or you can choose many colours
  • Plastic or silicon moulds of different shapes, available online or in the market


  • In a blender, grind the cashews to a powder in batches and do not allow the machine to heat up.
    Sieve the powdered cashews and the sugar into a bowl.
    Add the vanilla and the almond essence and mix into the ground cashew-powdered sugar mixture with your hands.
    Bind with the rose water carefully.
    Add in small drizzles and keep mixing.
    Don't add too much rose water or else the dough will be too runny.
    Knead until it is as soft and smooth as chapatti dough.
    Divide the dough into small portions.
    Add the food colour.
    You can choose to use a different colour for each portion or the same colour for the entire dough or just leave the dough white.
    Colour just brightens up the look of the marzipan.
    Remember to use just a few drops of each colour as it is very strong.
    Too much colour will ruin the look.
    Cover the divided portions with a cling wrap to avoid the dough from drying up or else it will crack.
    Dust the moulds with a little powdered sugar and press a little of each coloured portion or the same coloured portion into it.
    Make sure you spread out the dough evenly or else it won't take the shape of the mould.
    Tap out the dough gently from the mould and leave it on a plate or tray to set for a bit.
    Store in plastic boxes lined with butter paper between each row.
    The marzipan will stay fresh even out of the refrigerator for 10 days and in the refrigerator for months.

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