Marzipan is very versatile and underused because most people don't know the many ways to use it. Made with almonds, this delicious sweet paste is candy on its own but also used as an ingredient in many different ways.
I really enjoy marzipan and it's because I've been around it since a kid. My mom and god-mom made it in buckets. She would make small cute fruits with them and sells them as candy during Christmas.
The candy fruits would be simple elegant little tasty bites. Apples, mango, pineapple, banana, grapes. In fact, she would make us kids, roll out small balls of almond paste for the grapes.
What is marzipan?
A dough made from ground almonds, sugar, egg whites, and flavorings. There are a cooked and uncooked method and loads of different uses.
Known as Marzipan in the US and Almond paste in the UK. Quite often the difference is the ratio of Almonds: Sugar used in the two.
Marzipan and Almond past though have similar ingredients they are both different creatures.
- Marzipan is sweet and smooth. Made with finely ground almonds. It is often eaten on its own. It can be dyed with edible food colors, put into molds. and make great gifts.
- Almond paste is much coarser and is used as fillings for baked goods such as croissants.
Different types of marzipan
- The traditional is almond-based was made with almond meal.
- Cashew-based was for those that did not like almonds
- Hazelnut-based was the most expensive cause hazelnuts were very expensive.
- Of course, there's chocolate.
- and then she'd flavor them differently too. Pineapple candy would have pineapple flavor, Grape would have grape extract, etc.
I could go on and on about mom and her wonderful kitchen joys. Marzipan fruits sold like this is what I know as Christmas candy.
Is marzipan different from the fondant?
- Marzipan is much denser than fondant.
- It doesn’t stretch like fondant. It can be crumbly and breaks up easily.
- Taste better than fondant but is sticky and not very smooth.
- It gets its color from the nuts so it is not white but pale ivory.
- You can color Marzipan but the shades are not as bright as with fondant.
- Since it’s made with nuts – over-kneading when trying to color it, can cause the release of nut oils making it more difficult to work.
- Marzipan needs to be handled gently while fondant can endure some heavy kneading
- Never use cornflour to roll or work with your marzipan. Corn flour can cause marzipan to develop molds. Always use powder sugar only.
How to cover a cake with marzipan and fondant?
Here you can see I have covered a fruitcake with marzipan, then fondant. I made this cake for a customer's mom's 85th Birthday celebration.
- I brushed the fruitcake with apricot jam
- Then, I cut a disc of marzipan for the top of the cake.
- Next, I rolled a long strip of marzipan for the sides of the cake - cut off excess at the top
- I then brushed the marzipan with a light smear of apricot jam again
- Rolled my orange fondant and draped it over the cake.
- Continued the rest of the design as I have with roses and swags etc.
Working with marzipan or almond paste
- I said this above but I'm going to say it again - Marzipan hates cornstarch!! so any contact with cornstarch will cause marzipan to develop mold. In fact, you have to be very careful when covering a fruit cake with marzipan - any cornstarch on the rolling pin can prove fatal to your fruitcake.
- Just like sugar paste or fondant, you must keep marzipan well wrapped at all times. It dries out easily. And because it's made with nuts it's dried version becomes quite brittle.
- Marzipan should be stored in a cool dry place away from direct sunlight.
- If you ever have dried marzipan don't throw it away. Save it in the freezer- the next time you make streusel add it to the streusel.
Uses of marzipan
There are many different ways to use marzipan from simply covering a fruitcake to making fruits and truffles.
- Easter eggs - my favorite treat of all times - the classic or chocolate Easter eggs.
- Fruit Cakes --- Traditionally fruitcakes are covered in Marzipan and Royal Icing.
As explained above - Brush a fruit cake with Apricot jam, roll some marzipan, and cover the cake. Then cover the cake with sugar paste or royal Icing. I've shared the detailed process above.
- Top a Carrot cake with a layer of Marzipan. The nutty marzipan and carrots make a great combination.
- Marzipan Layered cake – Roll and cut out a disc of marzipan the same size as your cake. Layer it between two cake layers. Decorate the cake with whipped cream & strawberries or cherries
- Make tasty cake decorations such as flowers and fruits for cakes. Just color marzipan, roll and cut out the shapes. Cup the center of the flowers and place them on a cake. You can make roses similar to how we make chocolate roses but using marzipan.
- Make simple figures and models for your cakes. Human figures that don’t need support, such as a sitting boy, animal shapes. You would rather eat a delicious marzipan figure than a sugar paste figure.
- You can use Marzipan as a filing in puff pastry and croissants. Place a dollop as the filling, bake at 200 C/400 F for 15 to 20 minutes, or golden brown.
- Make Marzipan truffles – Marzipan and chocolate are a great combination. I have a few marzipan truffle recipes (linked below)
Roll marzipan balls, dip them in melted chocolate.
- Don’t’ Like Almond? – Substitute the almonds in the recipe with your favorite nuts such as cashews, macadamia, or pecans marzipan.
- Chocolate Marzipan -substitute some powder sugar with cocoa powder making chocolate marzipan.
- The German traditional cake Stollen uses marzipan baked inside the cake.
Frequently asked questions
If stored properly marzipan has a long shelflife of six months. Because the sugar content in marzipan is so high it can be kept at room temperature without refrigeration.
The traditional marzipan does include raw egg whites not the yolks so there is no risk of salmonella. So unless you are allergic to eggs you can eat raw marzipan. Having said that all my recipes substitute the raw egg with sugar syrup or water so you can eat all my marzipan recipes raw.
When kept for long in very dry conditions sometimes marzipan can get hard. Similar to fondant just place it in the microwave of 10 seconds. Gently knead it to soften it.
Yes, if you want a marzipan flavored fondant. However, if you are using homemade marzipan, make sure it is smooth, not coarse consistency.
Traditional fruitcake is covered with marzipan a week before you ice it with royal icing so that the marzipan dries out. Cover the cake with a clean cloth like cheesecloth and place it in an airtight container.
Almond extract and vanilla are the most commonly used. Rose extract or orange blossom is also very widely used. Having said that, cinnamon, nutmeg, and other spices like allspice and ginger are also often wonderful.
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