Marzipan is a soft, sweet, paste made with almonds and sugar. It can be eaten on its own, usually shaped into small fruits or cute animals, or used as a filling or covering for cakes and pastries. It’s full of sweet amaretto flavor and irresistible.
Marzipan is commonly bought ready-made, but sometimes marzipan can be hard to find in the grocery store or some brands may have ingredients or additives that you want to avoid. It turns out that making marzipan at home is actually incredibly easy and fast. It just takes about 5 minutes and a few ingredients you probably already have at home: almond flour, powdered sugar, and almond extract.
Marzipan, A Dessert Centuries Old
Marzipan has been around for many centuries and so the origins are a bit unclear. It most likely originated from China or the Middle East and was introduced to Europe through trade routes with the East. Several European cities have a long tradition of marzipan production, most notably Lübeck, Germany; Palermo, Italy; and Toledo, Spain.
The Difference Between Marzipan, Almond Paste, and Frangipane
Understandably, there’s a lot of confusion out there among the various almond fillings used in desserts like marzipan, almond paste, and frangipane. While they’re all made with almonds, they have major differences and applications in baking.
- Marzipan is a paste made with finely ground almonds and sugar. While there are no standards in the US for almond content in marzipan, it tends to be between 25 and 30 percent by weight. Marzipan can be eaten raw and is used to make candies, ice cakes, or as a filling.
- Almond paste is similar to marzipan, but it has more almonds and less sugar. Almond paste is generally 50 percent almond by weight. Almond paste can also be eaten raw and is generally used as an ingredient in cake batters, cookies, or fillings.
- Frangipane is an almond cream for tarts and pastries made with butter, sugar, eggs, and almond flour or almond paste. It cannot be eaten raw and bakes into a nutty, velvety filling.
When a recipe calls for one of these ingredients, it’s best to stick with the ingredient specified.
While almond paste and marzipan are similar, the differing almond and sugar content will cause a significant difference in results when baking.
Use Ground Almond Flour for Marzipan
When making marzipan at home I always get the best, smoothest results when using finely ground almond flour. Almond meal, which is similar to almond flour but includes the almond skin, will also work well, but the marzipan will be a darker color. I have tried using whole blanched almonds, but I can never grind the almonds finely enough in my food processor.
Uses for Homemade Marzipan
Marzipan is a delicious candy on its own shaped or sculpted into various figures like small fruits or animals, which are especially popular around Christmas and Easter. You can also dip small mounds of marzipan in chocolate. It's especially good with dark chocolate to balance some of the sweetness.
It can also be used similarly to fondant as icing for cakes. You can use this homemade version without any adjustments in any cake or other pastry recipe that calls for marzipan.
More Almond Desserts
Easy Homemade Marzipan
For the best results, use finely ground almond flour. Almond meal, which is similar to almond flour but includes the almond skin, will also work well, but the marzipan will be a darker color.
1 cup (96g) almond flour (see recipe note)
2 cups (227g) powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 tablespoons water
Combine the almond flour and powdered sugar:
Place the almond flour and powdered sugar in a food processor and process until fully combined and finely powdered, about 2 minutes. Pause a couple of times to scrape the sides and corners with a rubber spatula.
Add the almond extract and water:
Add the almond extract and water and run the food processor until the mixture comes together into a smooth ball, 1 to 2 minutes. If the mixture is still too dry to come together after 2 minutes of processing, add extra water, a teaspoon at a time, processing for a minute after each addition. It should come together into a thick paste resembling fondant icing or playdough.
Knead the marzipan:
Remove the marzipan from the food processor onto a clean surface, using a spatula to get any bits under the blades that weren’t incorporated. Use your hands to gently knead the marzipan on the counter for about 30 seconds, just to ensure everything is evenly combined and smooth.
Roll the marzipan into a log:
Roll the marzipan into a log, wrap it in plastic, and refrigerate until ready to use. The marzipan will firm up slightly in the refrigerator.
Store the marzipan in the refrigerator wrapped air-tight in plastic wrap for up to 10 days or frozen for up to 3 months.
To defrost the marzipan, leave in in the refrigerator, wrapped, overnight or for at least 3 to 4 hours before using.
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|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 4g||5%|
|Saturated Fat 0g||2%|
|Total Carbohydrate 21g||7%|
|Dietary Fiber 1g||4%|
|Total Sugars 19g|
|Vitamin C 0mg||0%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|