One of mankind’s oldest sources of sweet pleasure, marzipan needs to contain only ground almonds and sugar or honey, plus a binding of egg white or whole eggs. These ingredients invite friendships with almost every other voluptuous taste and flavour. Marzipan is often scented with vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and other sweet spices. Orange, lemon or lime zest, rose and orange flower waters are often also included too. It is especially happy when paired with chocolate.
In Europe, marzipan is made rather firm then coloured and baked into animal and flower shapes. When made softer, it is the filling for Christmas stollen cakes; in Salzburg’s Mozartkugels it combines with nougat and chocolate. In the UK, marzipan is best known as the bright yellow layer used to give a flat base between celebratory fruit cakes and Royal Icing. It also stops moisture from the cake staining the icing. The yellow colour is usually added to simulate egg yolk, with almond essence or extract strengthening the flavour. An apricot glaze is usually applied to a cake before the marzipan layer. Naturally coloured and flavoured marzipan is increasingly available and used.
Watch our video on how to marzipan a cake:
Can be bought or made at any time.
Choose the best
The best marzipan is probably one you make yourself and there are many differing recipes. Otherwise, choose any bought one that has not been ‘helped’ with additives or colouring unless to enhance an animal or floral shape.
As long as it is kept cool or refrigerated, marzipan has a long life, months at least. At warm or room temperature the almond content will slowly oxidise and develop off flavours.