Marzipan


A simple mixture of ground almonds and sugar, marzipan is a wonderfully pliable tool for confectionery artist.
This pliable confection is a mixture of ground almonds, sugar and sometimes unbeaten egg whites or rosewater. Often tinted with food coloring, marzipan is molded into a variety of sweets, especially marzipan-filled chocolates and "hand-painted" imitations of fruits and vegetables that look almost too beautiful to eat. Marzipan can also be rolled into thin sheets and glazed, making it a traditional icing (or filling) for wedding cakes and holiday goods such as stollen, tortell and some versions of Louisiana's king cake.

Varieties

In European countries, marzipan may be flavored with additional ingredients like rosewater, honey or pistachios. Under European Union (EU) law, it must have a minimum almond oil content of 14%. In the United States, marzipan must include at least a quarter almonds by weight, otherwise it is considered almond paste. However, in Sweden and Finland, the term "almond paste" refers to a very high-quality marzipan that contains at least 50% ground almonds.

History

The origin of marzipan brings up a bit of a delicious dispute. Some say the Egyptians made it as early as 1800 BC, while others believe it originated in Persia, or present-day Iran. Italians and Hungarians also claim marzipan as their own, while those in Lubeck, Germany tell an altogether different tale.

The story goes that marzipan was invented in Lubeck in response to a military siege or famine. The town ran out of all food except stored almonds and sugar, so the resourceful citizens made loaves of "marzipan bread." Whether true or a flight of confectionery fancy, Lubeck is certainly well-known for its excellent marzipan industry. To this day, manufacturers proudly carry on a tradition or producing a marzipan that is two-thirds almonds by weight. It is famously juicy and bright yellow in color.

Buying Tips

Marzipan is available at most supermarkets, either in cans or plastic-wrapped logs. You can also use a simple recipe to make your own marzipan at home.

Storage Tips

If storing for later use, wrap marzipan in plastic and refrigerate in an airtight container. Before using, allow it to soften to room temperature and knead briefly.

Usage Tips

• Marzipan will harden quickly if not wrapped and sealed. If this happens, add a little water to soften it.

• To flatten marzipan for cutting, place it between two sheets of wax paper and roll it out with a pin.

• Add food coloring in small amounts till you reach your desired color.

• Use toothpicks to make decorative indentions or add more detailed coloring.


Try one of our favorite marzipan recipes:

Lemon Almond Cake
Marzipan Dates
by BigOven editorial team
Add unlimited recipes. Organize in custom folders. Find recipes for your diet. Try BigOven Pro Free