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June Kitchen Challenge: Marzipan

Vintage Marzipan Recipe

June Kitchen Challenge: MarzipanI’ve lamented before on the lack of good quality marzipan here in the US. Usually I end up buying almond paste and thickening it as needed, because it actually tastes like almond. The marzipan you buy in the store is, more often than not, a rock-hard log of flavorless, chalky stuff that’s really a waste of good almonds more than anything.

In Europe, marzipan is regulated and must have a minimum almond content. In the U.S., it is generally made with a much higher ratio of sugar to almonds than almond paste, typically about 30% almonds for marzipan and 45% or so in products labeled almond paste. By contrast German marzipan can be upwards of 66% almonds. It’s that super-high quality stuff that we’re aiming for.

I had a source, briefly, of an amazing 60% marzipan, and used it wisely in a few treasured recipes. Alas, they discontinued their plans to distribute in the US and so I’m stuck here, marzipanless.

So, for this month’s challenge, we’re going to make homemade marzipan. If it works, the effort may be well worth it, since good marzipan is extremely expensive if/when you manage to get a hold of it at all.

The Challenges:
  • Almonds. The base of marzipan is (obviously) almonds. I’m not sure if you have to start with whole almonds and grind them yourself, or if almond flour/meal could be used instead. I’ve also read that California almonds by nature don’t have as much of the ‘bitter almond’ flavor that is so characteristic of marzipan. I’d be curious if bitter almonds can even be bought here in the US and used to supplement the flavor, or at the very least adding some bitter almond oil or almond extract might improve the flavor.
  • Raw vs Cooked. There are two methods I’ve found for homemade marzipan. One is a quicker, raw method, basically mixing ground almonds with sugar and liquid, either water or corn syrup or egg white. Cooked marzipan starts with a boiled sugar syrup which is then mixed with ground almonds.
  • Usage. The biggest question, if this homemade marzipan turns out, is what to do with it? Because the possibilities are endless…
Resources & Recipes:
  • My trusty vintage candy-making book (pictured above) has a recipe for boiled marzipan, with egg whites and orange blossom water. I’ll probably try this one first since it seems pretty legit. The book is called Candy (The Good Cook Techniques & Recipes Series) if you’re curious.
  • This recipe from Kvali (also a cooked marzipan) explains very well the differences and pitfalls making authentic Danish marzipan at home.
  • If an uncooked marzipan is more your style, this one from Smitten Kitchen should get you started. It uses corn syrup rather than egg whites as a binder, so there are no concerns over raw eggs (though you could easily use pasteurized egg whites).

Join me!

Make a batch of homemade marzipan (raw or cooked, your choice) by Friday, June 27th and send me a photo of what you made with it (please send photos of the final dish that uses your homemade marzipan, just because a dozen photos of beige logs isn’t terribly exciting. Please and thank you!) I’ll post about my own experience the following week along with a roundup of everyone who tackled this challenge with me.

Submit Your Results »

The Kitchen Challenge series is simply about getting in the kitchen and challenging yourself to make something new; you aren’t required to have a blog to participate, nor are you required to post about it if you do. However, if you do have a blog and post about the challenge, you are more than welcome to use the above graphic.

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15 CommentsLeave a Comment →

  1. 1
    Posted On May 23, 2014 at 5:41 am

    I might have to get in on this challenge- I’ve always been so intrigued (and scared!) by marzipan. Can’t wait to see everyone’s entries :)

    Reply

  2. 2
    Posted On May 23, 2014 at 5:53 am

    I can’t wait to see everyones results, and I’m sad that I won’t have time to take part :(

    Reply

  3. 3
    Posted On May 23, 2014 at 6:35 am

    I may get in the challenge too.  I’ve been putting off some margipan research and creation for a bit now.  This is a great way to get it off the list :). Thanks for the resources.

    Reply

  4. 4
    Posted On May 23, 2014 at 6:51 am

    I’d love to try making homemade marzipan! It sounds surprisingly easy, since you outlined the various methods. 

    Reply

  5. 5
    Posted On May 23, 2014 at 7:59 am

    My uncle lived in German and would bring back the most gorgeous, delicious marzipan for us every Christmas. What an exciting idea to make my own! (though I don’t think I’ll get it shaped into the pretty little fruits his were in…)

    Reply

  6. 6
    Bonnie
    Posted On May 23, 2014 at 9:06 am

    This has reminded me of your chocolate-dipped almond horns. I’m being drawn inexorably into the kitchen to make them.

    Reply

  7. 7
    Posted On May 23, 2014 at 9:58 am

    Great idea! Looking forward to tackling this one.

    Reply

  8. 8
    Alex
    Posted On May 23, 2014 at 10:53 am

    I love making marzipan, it’s a Christmas tradition that I inherited from my mom’s family. It is a very simple family recipe that doesn’t involve any cooking, only almonds, powdered sugar and some bitter almond extract, we them make small ball that we roll in Dutch processed cocoa powder DELICIOUS!

    Reply

  9. 9
    Posted On May 23, 2014 at 11:21 am

    this is perfect! i use marzipan ALL THE TIME, but i agree, the store-bought kind here could be much better! that is fascinating that europe has those regulations!!!

    Reply

  10. 10
    Posted On May 23, 2014 at 1:24 pm

    Hello! I’m from Germany and to be honest I had no idea that our marzipan has such a good quality. I never made my own, if I have time I will try and send you some photos.

    Reply

  11. 11
    Posted On May 23, 2014 at 9:22 pm

    Oooo! What a good idea! I love marzipan (the good quality, European marzipan that is!). I will absolutely be trying this out! 

    Reply

  12. 12
    Posted On May 23, 2014 at 9:41 pm

    Love this one! Might have to join in on this one!

    Reply

  13. 13
    Posted On May 24, 2014 at 12:49 pm

    I’m a relative new-comer to the kitchen and had to wikipedia what marzipan was so this will be a great first kitchen challenge for me (I hope!). Can’t wait to try it out, thanks for the great idea!

    Reply

  14. 14
    Jeanne
    Posted On May 24, 2014 at 1:19 pm

    Hi Lindsay!  Do you have an Aldi store near you?  My husband is a marzipan lover and we buy excellent quality marzipan logs there (made in Germany).  They are just as good as the ones we buy in Europe, and very inexpensive, too!

    Reply

  15. 15
    Posted On May 25, 2014 at 2:53 pm

    What a strange thing!
    Here in Italy, we only use sugar paste now and you know, it’s very hard to find a good one …
    You look for marzipan …
    It makes me laugh ;)

    Your blog is stunning!!!!

    Reply

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