What Is Marzipan?
And is it the same thing as almond paste?
By Fraya Berg for Food Network Kitchen
Fraya is a chef and a contributing writer at Food Network.
We wouldn't be surprised if you've heard marzipan mentioned on the Great British Bake Off. There's also an entire dance dedicated to marzipan in Balanchine's popular Christmas play, "The Nutcracker." But what exactly is marzipan? Read on for more info, including the difference between marzipan and almond paste.
What Is Marzipan?
Marzipan is a ready-to-eat sweet treat traditionally found in confectionary shops across Europe. Made from ground almonds, sugar and egg whites, it is often shaped and dyed or painted as realistic fruits and vegetables. Different countries have different marzipan traditions. In Germany, there are marzipan potatoes and bread shapes, and for New Years' Eve, little pink marzipan pigs. In France, there is candy-shaped marzipan that's often coated in chocolate. In the U.S., marzipan isn’t as common, but it is often seen around the holidays.
What Is Marzipan Made Of?
Marzipan is typically made from finely ground blanched (skinless) almonds, confectioners’ sugar, egg whites and almond extract to intensify flavor. When the almonds are finely ground, the oil in the nuts combines with the sugar and egg whites, transforming the mixture into smooth, pliable marzipan that's easy to mold or roll into a flexible sheet.
What Does Marzipan Taste Like?
Marzipan has a very sweet, nutty almond flavor. Its texture is soft, chewy and slightly rough due to the ground up almonds. Marzipan purchased in Europe can have a slightly bitter flavor because it's sometimes made with a variety of almond called a bitter almond, which isn't allowed to be imported into the U.S.
What Is Marzipan Used For?
Marzipan is sold in logs that are ready to be shaped into fruits, veggies or little animals - or just cut or rolled and dipped in chocolate. It’s an instant ingredient that can be used like sculpting clay and decorated with food-safe coloring to be anything you’d like.
It can also be used like fondant to cover a cake. Speaking of cake, you'll commonly see marzipan shaped into little carrots and used as decoration on top of carrot cakes in the U.S.
What’s the Difference Between Marzipan and Almond Paste?
Marzipan is ready-to-eat, whereas almond paste is typically used as a baking ingredient, folded into pastries like cookies or croissants.
Marzipan and almond paste have the same ingredients but in different proportions. Both contain almonds, sugar and egg whites. Marzipan is 1 part ground almonds and 2 parts confectioners’ sugar. Almond paste is made from equal parts almond and sugar, so it is less sweet.
The two ingredients are not in interchangeable in recipes; however, in a pinch, you can turn almond paste into marzipan by adding some sugar and egg whites.
How to Make Marzipan
If you can't find marzipan, here's how to make it yourself - it's surprisingly easy. Plus, homemade tastes so much fresher than store-bought, trust us. Check out the full recipe here.
8 ounces almond paste
1 3/4 cups confectioners' sugar
4 tablespoons corn syrup
- Mix together the almond paste and sugar. In the bowl of an electric mixer, add the almond paste and beat just to break up the almond paste some. Add about 1 cup of the sugar and mix until it is incorporated. Add the remaining sugar and beat until incorporated. The mixture will look like coarse bread crumbs at this point.
- Add the corn syrup. Add the corn syrup and mix to combine well. The mixture will still be very crumbly.
- Knead the mixture. Knead the mixture on a clean work surface until it makes a smooth dough. If the dough seems too sticky, knead in a little more confectioners' sugar.
- Color the marzipan. If you want to color the marzipan, break off the amount of dough you want colored. Add a drop and knead in. For more intense color, add more food coloring. Shape into desired shapes. Check out this recipe a step-by-step guide on how to shape and color marzipan lemons and limes.
Recipes that Use Marzipan
Molly Yeh walks you through how to make marzipan from scratch, then instructs you how to dip cute little marzipan rectangles in melted chocolate and top them off with pistachios and dried rose petals. How's that for festive?
Here, a great example of how to use marzipan in cake decorating. Molly shows you how to roll it out into flat sheets and stack them between cake layers, plus create moose decorations from marzipan.
This shortcut buche de Noel recipe instructs you how to decorate a store-bought cake to look like a Yule log. You'll mold the mushroom stems out of marzipan.