Marzipan: It’s one of those fancy-sounding ingredients that most of us have heard of before…but can’t explain. So, what is marzipan? In short, it’s an almond-based confection that’s popular in various places around the world, particularly in the Middle East, Europe, the Mediterranean and Latin America. But how can a baker incorporate it into their pantry? Read on to find out.

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What Is Marzipan?

Marzipan, also called almond candy dough, is a sweet, nutty confection that’s typically made from finely ground almonds and some kind of sweetener, like honey or sugar syrup. When these two simple ingredients come together, they create a rollable, doughy treat that can be molded, sliced or even dyed. Many variations of marzipan also call for egg whites (for binding and smoothness), confectioners’ sugar, almond or vanilla extract or cinnamon for extra flavor.

Marzipan can be eaten solo like candy or mixed into cake batter, cookies, breads and other desserts. (You may have seen it molded into tiny mushrooms on a French bûche de Noël, in a German stollen or around the border of a British Battenberg cake.) It can also be rolled out and molded like fondant, and you’d be surprised how easy it is to work with in comparison. The fatty almonds keep marzipan moist for longer periods of time, while fondant dries out relatively quickly.

Is Marzipan the Same as Almond Paste?

Nope. They’re both made with sugar and almonds, but marzipan is smooth and moldable, while almond paste is less sweet and coarser in texture. Almond paste has a stronger almond flavor, since it contains less sugar. For this reason, almond paste is better used as a filling for certain treats, rather than as a confection all its own. Think of marzipan as a hybrid of almond paste and fondant due to its flavor and pliability.

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How to Make Marzipan at Home

While store-bought marzipan can sometimes have a bitter flavor (chalk that up to using low-quality almonds), homemade marzipan tends to be much sweeter—and more delicious. Most recipes are as simple as blanching or boiling the almonds, blitzing them in the food processor, adding the sweetener and blending until smooth.

Once the marzipan is finished, wrap it in plastic or foil, then store it in a dry place at room temperature. It should keep for about a month (if you haven’t devoured it all by then). Here are a few of our favorite recipes for marzipan, all with varying ingredients:

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