What Is Marzipan, and How Do You Use It?

It’s a great ingredient in holiday baking. But what is marzipan? If you can’t find it in the store, what are your options?

You’ve seen it in baking recipes, and it even has its own public holiday (January 12th, in case you were wondering). Marzipan is an incredible baking ingredient, essential to the best holiday treats. It’s sweet and delicious, and you can use it to make the cutest little candies, glazed cakes, and bite-sized dessert cups filled with marzipan. If you’ve never used it, you might think marzipan is another name for almond butter. They’re both made with almonds, so they must be the same, right?

What is Marzipan?

Before we know how it’s made, you might be wondering what marzipan is. Marzipan is a light, candy-like concoction of ground almonds mixed with sugar, corn syrup, and egg whites. Some say it is from Persia, others say it is from Germany, Spain, Italy or France. In fact, the ingredient was so popular in Spain that settlers brought it to America, where it was made with peanuts instead of almonds.

While its origins are unclear, one thing is clear: it’s famous for its use around Christmas. Chocolate-coated treats can be found all year round, but winter brings us the famous Stollen from Germany and Christmas bars from France.

Is almond butter the same as marzipan?

If you want to use almond paste instead of marzipan, don’t! You can certainly add sugar and corn syrup to the almond paste to make it resemble marzipan, but it’s not a good swap. Both products are made with sugar and almonds, but marzipan has a candy-like flavor and a secret ingredient — an egg white — that makes it smooth and malleable. Almond paste, on the other hand, has a coarser texture and less sweetness, making it more suitable as a filling.

You can see people using marzipan and fondant interchangeably to decorate cakes. You can of course use fudge as a substitute, as it has the same sweetness and malleable texture, but you’ll find it’s not as easy to use. The almonds in marzipan act like flour, keeping the product moist and easy to roll. Fudge is made from sugar and gelatin, so it can dry out easily when rolled. It also lacks the almond flavor that makes marzipan so popular.

How to Make Marzipan

Making marzipan is actually super easy! Many recipes suggest adding powdered sugar and corn syrup to the almond paste, but we found these versions too sweet and lacked the natural almond flavor.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon egg white
  • 1 cup blanched almonds
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar, divided
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon light corn syrup
  • Yield: about 1 cup

Directions

  1. Mix it up. Start by mixing the almonds and 1/4 cup powdered sugar in a food processor (it’s our favorite brand of food processor!). Stir the mixture until well mixed. Then add the remaining powdered sugar along with the almond extract and light corn syrup. Process for a minute until the mixture is very smooth. Add the egg whites at the end and process until the mixture forms a ball.
  2. Let it rest No matter how you plan to use it, it’s important to let the marzipan rest. Otherwise the mixture will get too hot and may fall apart during processing. Remove marzipan from food processor and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for an hour until firm.
  3. enjoy. Marzipan is now ready to use! You can eat it like candy or press it into molds to make fun shapes like fruit, stars or animals. It can also be used as a cake topping like fondant, or placed between two cake layers to create a tasteful divider. If you want, you can color it with food coloring to make it more festive.