What is Marzipan: Everything You Need to Know
The countdown to December and Christmas is an exciting one, as people spend the days baking and preparing for the holidays. One of the favorite sweets out there is marzipan, which can be added to cakes, chocolates or molded into themed shapes.
The Roots Of Marzipan
Marzipan is a sweet that is made with ground almonds. In many countries, the percentage of almonds is regulated before it gets to be called marzipan. This helps maintain the quality because almonds do not get substituted with apricot kernels, which are cheaper.
Although the real marzipan origin is normally debated, it became popular in Lübeck, Germany. Stories say that during the 15th century, a famine caused a shortage in flour and thus, bread was also scarce. Bakers were ordered to think of a replacement. Marzipan was created out of sugar, eggs, and almonds.
Nowadays, it is enjoyed all over the world, not only during the holidays. In Italy, Cyprus, and Greece, for example, it is normal to find them during weddings and religious fests.
Some people mistake marzipan with mazapan, although there are huge differences in how to make marzipan and mazapan. The latter is a Latin American version made with peanuts instead of almonds. In Mexico, other substitutes include pistachios and pine nuts.
Another version, Persipan, uses peach or apricot pits to replace almonds. Because peaches and almonds are actually related, the taste is similar. Still, real enthusiasts will know the difference.
In the original marzipan recipe, rose water is used while in the Middle East, they use orange-flower water. In Europe and the United States, they are molded into different shapes.
What Is In Marzipan?
This candy-like substance is created by combining ground almonds, corn syrup, egg whites, and sugar. In some countries, the proportion is important to be able to call the mixture marzipan. It is also important to differentiate between marzipan and almond paste, which have the same main ingredient.
However, there is a huge difference between the two, with marzipan containing egg whites and is much sweeter compared to almond paste. Plus, almond paste cannot be used in the same way as what is marzipan used for. It is not moldable like marzipan. Almond paste, on the other hand, is found as a filling in pastries.
For those who are looking for gluten- or dairy-free versions, there are options available. You can find marzipan sold in cans, tubes, or tubs at around $5 per container.
Uses Of Marzipan
Marzipan can be found in many stores but tons of people choose to make it themselves during the holiday. You can easily make your own marzipan candy in different shapes. However, this is not the only way to enjoy this sweet.
Another idea on how to use marzipan is to decorate cakes or desserts like fondant. It can be dyed so that it is more colorful and turned into various shapes and designs like marzipan fruit. It may also be covered with chocolate and eaten like a candy.
How To Make Your Own Marzipan
If you are looking to create your own marzipan cake, it is not at all complicated. Plus, the ingredients are simple. There are also ways to make it easier, for example by substituting almonds with almond meal instead. You will not need to blanch and grind the nuts yourself. Rosewater can also be replaced with honey or syrup.
All your need are 2 cups of almonds (or almond meal), 2 and a half cups of powdered sugar, 1 and a half tablespoon of rosewater and 8 to 10 teaspoons of water.
If you are using whole almonds, you need to blanch them in boiling water, removing the nuts when they start to float. Remove the skins before grinding them in your food processor.
You can add the powdered sugar and rosewater, adding the rest of the water slowly. Continue the pulsing, watching out for the texture. Add one teaspoon of water at a time if the paste is still too dry until you achieve the right consistency. Afterward, it can be used as desired, either to create marzipan cookies or using it as cake icing.
Wrap it in a kitchen cloth to prevent it from drying if you are using it immediately. If you need to store it for a longer time, you need to wrap it in plastic and keep it in the fridge. You can also add some flavoring like vanilla.
While it is not for those who have nut allergies, marzipan is a great option for icing or as a dessert by itself. You can create it at home or buy it at a grocery easily, all ready for holiday baking.