I love the taste of marzipan… theoretically. Well I do like it, except that every time someone has offered me some marzipan lately, it just doesn’t taste right. I decided to investigate.
I went to Amazon and looked at a variety of marzipans they have for sale. Mystery solved. Most types of marzipan on the market have more sugar than almonds, some have high fructose corn syrup too, and soy lecithin, among other totally unnecessary and bizarre ingredients.
Sounds like it’s time to make it myself.
Real marzipan is made from only three ingredients:
- wild almonds
I discovered all about wild almonds the hard way (read about that here). They have a fascinating taste: first the flavor of regular almonds comes through. That quickly gives way to an intensely bitter flavor, then comes the distinctive marzipan taste. The bitter taste, by the way, comes from cyanide. It can’t be too concentrated though, because I ate about 10 of them (before I discovered that it had cyanide), and didn’t suffer any ill effects. Don’t worry, they’re soaked before they go into the maripan, so no death by maripan.
For those who don’t have wild almonds within easy reach, you can make marzipan with almond extract, but make sure you use the real thing – not artificial almond flavoring.
Making marzipan isn’t difficult, but you’ve got to do things correctly. The almonds have to soak, so remember to start the day before.
360 gm. unroasted, unpasteurized almonds, preferably organic
4 small bitter almonds OR ¼ tsp. almond extract
2 tbsp. water
6 tbsp. organic cane sugar
1. Prepare the almonds
Soak almonds in water for 24 hours. This not only makes it possible to get the skin off, but rids it of anti-nutrients. Drain the almonds. If the skin doesn’t come off easily, drag a knife blade over the joint edge of each of the almond to peel away a teeny strip of skin. Then pour hot water over, leave for two minutes, and almonds should be easy to peel. Towel dry, sun dry, or oven dry on the lowest heat setting.
2. Prepare the wild almonds
(Skip this section if you are using almond extract).
You have to soak the almonds to get rid of their poison. Soak the almonds overnight in a glass of water. Peel and break them in half, and leave them to soak for another 24 hours, changing the water a few times. Dry.
3. Grind the almonds
Add the bitter almonds to the other almonds and grind them all up using a food processor or coffee grinder.
Tip: If you need to rid the coffee grinder of the taste of coffee or spices, just grind a small amount of white rice and tip it out.
Grind the almonds to a very fine powder. The coffee grinder, if you’re using that, will give some resistance and you’ll see that it’s done. Once your almond powder is ready, it’s time to make the syrup.
4. Prepare the sugar syrup
Put the water and sugar in a small pot on low heat, stirring constantly until all the sugar has melted. This doesn’t take long so babysit it so it doesn’t burn or caramelize. Add the almond extract to the sugar syrup and stir.
5. Time for the magic
Add the sugar syrup and almond extract to the almond powder. Knead the marzipan until it forms a consistent paste, squeezing out any air bubbles. It should be soft and pliable. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours and you’re done!
You can shape it any way you like, maybe even a in the shape of a squirrel.