Growing up in Germany, home to the world’s most famous marzipan, I was practically raised on this stuff. Well, not really, but I wouldn’t have protested had my parents tried :) If you’re looking for an authentic marzipan recipe that’s easy to make, is much cheaper than store-bought, and tastes absolutely phenomenal, you’ve come to the right place!
Marzipan is addictively delicious. But it’s also really expensive to buy. The way around this? Make your own! The good news is that marzipan and almond past are also super easy and quick to make and now you can make your own anytime, anywhere. This is simply the BEST homemade marzipan!
Your life is forever changed.
I grew up on marzipan. It’s everywhere in Germany. Just a few hours north of where I grew up in Stuttgart is the historic town of Lübeck, world famous for its marzipan. It’s also a beautiful, scenic port town.
The Holstentor is Lübeck’s most famous feature, a Brick Gothic construction from Medieval times. It has been a UNESCO world heritage site since 1987.
Images courtesy creative commons, Giam and SteFou
Lübeck is also the home of Niederegger Marzipan, probably the most famous marzipan in the world. If I were to weigh how much of that marzipan I ate during my 23 years in Europe it would probably come close to 893 pounds. Niederegger has been around since 1806 producing the highest quality marzipan, including a class that is made from 100% almonds (no sugar), and it uses only the finest almonds from around the Mediterranean.
A Brief History Lesson (very brief)
Though marzipan has long been associated with Germany and Italy in particular, its roots are in the Orient. As far back as 850, a Persian doctor by the name of Rhazes praised the curative properties of almond and sugar paste. (See, now why can’t our doctors today be equally so inspired?) When the Crusaders returned to Europe from the Orient they brought this delicacy back with them. Initially only enjoyed by kings and the very wealthy, by the 19th century when sugar was being extracted from sugar beets, making it cheaper, marzipan became widely accessible. It has been a prized and popular treat ever since.
(history lesson over. see, I told you it was brief)
At the Niederegger Marzipan factory in Lübeck you can see a life-sized display of statues made from marzipan. It’s stunning! I can’t remember, but I would imagine its roped off to keep visitors, and their teeth, from getting too close.
Aside from being dipped in chocolate, wrapped and sold, marzipan is also often shaped into various figures, including fruits and vegetables that look real-life. If you’re crafty, marzipan is a fun medium to work with.
And of course marzipan is incorporated into deliciously decadent cakes and baked goods.
Here are just a couple of baked goods on our site featuring marzipan and if you type “marzipan” into the search box at the top right of the screen you’ll find several more.
Traditional German Bethmännchen (Marzipan Cookies) (click on the links for the recipes)
So yes, marzipan is a wonderful, wonderful thing. But it’s also an expensive thing. When you buy almond paste it usually comes in very small quantities with a pretty hefty price tag for what you get. That’s why I’m sharing this recipe with you. So that you can make it at a tiny fraction of the cost and have it on hand whenever you need it. And it’s SO quick and easy to make!
Marzipan vs. Almond Paste – What’s the Difference?
In part it comes down to where you live. In Europe it’s widely referred to as marzipan whereas here in North American the term almond paste is more common. But there’s also a difference in the ratio of almonds to sugar as well as consistency. Almond paste is softer and is used in baked goods. Marzipan is firmer and is used in making candies/chocolates or as fondant for cakes. Marzipan also uses rose water. To adjust this recipe according to what you’re using it for, follow this recipe as instructed for almond paste (I still include the rose water because it tastes amazing), or add an extra 1/4 cup or more of ground almonds until you reach a firmer consistency (one that you can roll out with a rolling pin without it sticking).
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Let’s get started!
You can either blanch and grind your own almonds or buy almond meal/flour, which is quicker and more convenient and will yield a more consistent product. The almond meal needs to be completely dried and grinding your own will produce an almond meal that is “wet” because it still has a lot of oil in it. Many large grocery stores carry almond meal. I use and like Bob’s Red Mill Super Fine Almond Meal/Flour. Be sure to get almond meal that’s made from blanched almonds (skins removed). If you can’t find it locally, you can also conveniently purchase almond meal online (this particular one is “super finely” ground which is recommended for marzipan.
Add the almond meal to a food processor. I like to use my little Cuisinart food processor for jobs like this. Over 10 years old and still going strong!
Add the powdered sugar to the almond meal and pulse to combine and break up any lumps.
*Diabetics or those looking for a sugar-free marzipan / almond paste option, you can use Swerve Confectioner Sweetener.
Almond paste uses almond extract only. Marzipan also uses rose water for a positively delightful flavor.
There are varying degrees of quality when you buy rose water. Some are inexpensive, some are very expensive (and some of those aren’t even necessarily better). A brand that I’m happy with is Cortas and it is very reasonably priced with good reviews. You can purchase it online here. A bottle of it will last you forever.
Whichever brand you buy, make absolutely sure it is food grade rose water.
You also want to use good quality almond extract. You can find it in many grocery stores or purchase almond extract online here.
Add the rose water and almond extract and pulse to combine.
Add the egg white. Egg white is the traditional moistener. If that worries you, keep in mind that eggs are pasteurized. If you’re still concerned about that, read the “Note” in the recipe box.
Process the ingredients until it comes together in a firm mass.
If it’s too wet, add more powdered sugar and ground almonds. Keep in mind though that it will become firmer after it’s been refrigerated.
Turn the dough out onto a work surface and knead it a few times just to make sure all the ingredients are fully combined.
Form the dough into a log, ball or disc and wrap it tightly in plastic wrap.
The marzipan will keep in the refrigerator for several weeks (provided you used very fresh egg white).
Warm the marzipan to room temperature before using.
Making your own marzipan or almond paste couldn't possibly be any easier - or tastier!
- 1 1/2 cups very finely ground blanched almond flour/meal or blanch, grind and dry your own almonds - I recommend the bought almond meal to ensure it's finely ground and sufficiently dry
- 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- Sugar-free and diabetic alternative: use 1 1/2 cups Swerve Confectioner Sweetener
- 2 teaspoons quality pure almond extract
- 1 teaspoon quality food grade rose water
- 1 egg white (vegan: use egg substitute 3+ tablespoons corn syrup (see Note)
- Place the almond flour and powdered sugar in a food processor and pulse until combined and any lumps are broken up. Add the almond extract and rose water and pulse to combine. Add the egg white and process until a thick dough is formed. If the mass is still too wet and sticky, add more powdered sugar and ground almonds. Keep in mind that it will become firmer after it's been refrigerated.
- Turn the almond marzipan out onto a work surface and knead it a few times. Form it into a log, wrap it up in plastic wrap and refrigerate.
- Will keep for at least a month in the refrigerator or up to 6 months in the freezer. Bring to room temperature before using in any recipe.
- Makes about 12 ounces of marzipan or almond paste
* Egg white is what is traditionally used. If you're concerned about raw egg you can use pasteurized egg whites in the carton instead. If you absolutely must (though I don't recommend it), you can use a few tablespoons of corn syrup instead.
* Marzipan vs. Almond Paste - the difference: Almond paste is softer and is used in baked goods. Marzipan is firmer and is used in making candies/chocolates or as fondant for cakes. Marzipan also uses rose water. To adjust this recipe according to what you're using it for, follow this recipe as instructed for almond paste (I still include the rose water because it tastes amazing), or add an extra 1/4 cup or more of ground almonds/almond meal until you reach a firmer consistency (one that you can roll out with a rolling pin without it sticking).