Marzipan is a paste created by mixing sugar with almonds. It is often used as icing for cakes or sculpted into a variety of shapes and consumed as candies. Marzipan recipes are overtly simple consisting of almonds and sugar as the only ingredients which are bound together with an agent like water, cornstarch, fondant, glucose or egg whites. The consistency of the prepared marzipan is similar to that of a dough which can be rolled, molded or cut into shape easily. Marzipan recipes are often used to form the base layer of icing on a cake where it is draped all over the surface of the cake. The sides are then smoothed out carefully in order to avoid formation of wrinkles. A fruit glaze is also generally applied in between the cake and the marzipan icing which makes the icing stick to the cake properly. Marzipan decorations on the cake can be of many types. It is possible to cut the paste into a number of three dimensional shapes which look realistic. These shapes along with alphabets or numbers crafted out of the marzipan improve the look, taste and texture of the cake and other desserts considerably as well. Marzipan recipes may frequently recommend using rosewater to flavor the paste. The commercial varieties of marzipan available are not always pure frequently substituting the ingredients with an inexpensive soy paste and almond essence instead of using the whole nut. It was also believed to have been an aphrodisiac.
History Of Marzipan Recipes
The first of the marzipan recipes are believed to have been originated in Persia or the modern day Iran from where it spread to Europe via Turkey. However, both the Hungarians as well as the Italians claim to be the land where marzipan originated. The region around the Baltic Sea in Germany is particularly well known for its quality of marzipan which is bright yellow in color as it uses two thirds of almond paste mixed with a third of sugar. Another line of belief leads to Spain as the country where the marzipan recipes had originated. It can be traced back to the year 1150 during the reign of Alphonso VII. It was known as the Postre Regio instead of marzipan here.
Methods Of Preparation For Marzipan Recipes
The basic marzipan recipes consist of creating a sugar syrup by melting sugar in water. Cream of tartar is often added to the boiling syrup as well. The liquid needs to be boiled until it reaches the soft ball consistency when the almond paste and egg whites or any other binding agent before placing it back on heat. The mixture thickens gradually and needs to be spread on a flat surface until cooled. It can then be kneaded into a dough and is ready to be fashioned into shapes or cut as candy strips. Apart from being used as decorations, marzipan is also eaten as candies. The simplest form of this candy can be a block of the sweet nutty paste which can also be sprinkled with granulated sugar, dipped in chocolate or flavored with a variety of zests and essences.
Marzipan is relished in almost all parts of the world with slight variations in their recipes. The commonest variations that are noticeable across the world include:-
• Goa, India- Cashew nuts replace the almonds.
• Germany- Marzipan paste is used in a partially dried form.
• France- Created by pouring almond paste into the sugar syrup.
• Spain- Bitter almonds are not used in preparing the marzipan paste. In Toledo they are shaped like animals and filled with egg yolks. • Italy- Frutta martoranas are shaped and colored with edible dyes to resemble fruits.
• Greece & Cyprus- Prefer the white colored marzipan.
• Mexico- Considered to be an artisan treat, the almond is frequently replaced with peanuts, pistachios or pine nuts.
• Middle East- Flavored with orange and shaped like flowers, the marzipan is used for decorating sweetmeats.
Regulations For Preparing Marzipan
The new EU law requires the marzipan to contain atleast 14% of almond oil together with a maximum content of 8.5% moisture. Rosewater, honey, preservatives, hazelnuts and pistachios are recognized as additional ingredients. In USA the ratio of sugar to almonds is slightly higher than the amount of almond paste present within the concoction. The other countries of Europe, however, prefer to have an increased quantity of ground almonds with the German variety consisting of almost 66% almonds.
• The Arabic book of fable, ‘One thousand and one nights’ mentions the paste of almond and sugar that was eaten during Ramadan.
• The Glücksschwein or lucky pig given as a New Year’s day present in Germany is made of marzipan.