Marzipan is a type of sugar dough or paste that's used in baking and cake decorating. It's similar to almond paste, but the marzipan has a smoother texture that's more like fondant and can be used in many of the same ways.
How Marzipan Is Made
Marzipan is mainly a combination of almonds, sugar and liquid, although some recipes even incorporate egg whites. The following recipe makes a very nice marzipan paste, and you can make multiple batches if you have a lot of decorating to do.
For the base:
- 3 cups whole sweet almonds
- 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
For the syrup:
- 3 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup light corn syrup
- 1/2 cup rose water
- 2 teaspoons pure almond extract
- Combine the almonds and powdered sugar in a food processor and process until the nuts are very fine.
- In a heavy, non-stick saucepan, combine the granulated sugar, corn syrup and rose water.
- Heat on low and stir gently until all the sugar is dissolved, and then brush down the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush.
- Turn up the heat to medium, attach a candy thermometer to the lip of the pan, and let the liquid heat up to the firm ball stage, approximately 245° F, without stirring.
- Carefully pour the hot liquid into the food processor with the almond and sugar mixture, and then process everything into a fine paste.
- Add the almond extract, and pulse it into the paste to really enhance the flavor.
- Transfer the marzipan into a bowl that has been coated in non stick spray, and cover it with a damp towel while you let it cool.
- Once the mix is cooled, it's ready to use.
Where to Buy
For the average home baker, it may be easier to just purchase marzipan rather than make it from scratch even though it's a little less expensive if you make it yourself. Purchasing it is definitely a time saver, and this will give you more time to focus on your confectionery creations. You can buy ready-made marzipan at many local grocery stores and cake decorating supply shops, as well as at the following websites.
- Superior Nut Company offers the product in 11-ounce cans, as well as 8-pound bulk cans. Prices range from about $7.00 to $50.00 per item.
- Biermann Marzipan sells their product in convenient five, ten, or twenty pound blocks. Prices range from approximately $30.00 to $100.00. You can also purchase finished candies if you'd like to see what they look like before attempting to make your own.
- Nuts.com also sells 2.5 pound containers of American Almond brand marzipan for around $20.00 each.
- King Arthur Flour is another source for Love 'N Bake brand marzipan. Their price is nearly $9.00 for an 11-ounce can.
Ways to Use Marzipan
Marzipan is very versatile. Since it can be rolled, cut with cookie cutters, molded or shaped by hand, you can use it to:
- Make flowers, beads and other edible decorations
- Create sculptures of brides and grooms, animals and other characters
- Cover cakes and petit fours to add another layer of flavor before covering with fondant
- Place a sheet between layers of cake and create a more distinctive flavor
- Make individual pieces of candy, often shaped and colored like fruits, that are coated with simple syrup
You have a couple of coloring options when working with marzipan. You can color the paste itself, or you can use food coloring to paint the outside of the paste after shaping.
Not to Be Confused with Almond Paste
To less experienced bakers, marzipan and almond paste are sometimes confused as being the same thing since they basically have the same ingredients. To make it easier to distinguish one from the other, think of marzipan as primarily used in cake decorating or as a candy by itself. Think of almond paste used as a filling for baked goods.
Experiment with Marzipan
If you've worked with fondant or modeling chocolate, you should try working with marzipan. It really isn't that difficult, and your decorations will have a sweet almond flavor that many people find more appealing than plain fondant. It just might become your new favorite for decorating cakes.