Tuesday, December 21, 2010

How to make marzipan sweets

This is another recipe from my book Sweet As, and something that I love to make for Xmas.
I would like to say that for marzipan you should get the best almonds around, natural, but here in New Zealand the almonds taste different from the ones in Italy. They are imported, not sure where from most of the time, but they are not top grade almonds.

Still, with a few tips, you can make your marzipan taste great even with 'regular' almonds! Buy them natural, not blanched, you need to blanche then yourself or the result will be too dry.

To blanch them you need to put them in boiling water for a couple of minutes, and then add cold water and take the skin off, one by one. For this recipe you will need:

200 g almonds
100 g icing sugar
5 apricot kernels.

As I was saying before, the almond here have little taste, so I like to collect the stones from apricot and get the almonds out. They are a real pain to crack! In the photo above you can see apricot stones and kernels.

The apricot kernels too need to be blanched, in fact the skin is poisonous! And you should not eat too many, 5 for 200 g of normal almonds is what I use, and they give the marzipan a nicealmondy taste. In the photo above you can see an apricot kernel (left) , and a normal almond (right). Try and taste an apricot kernel, they are bitter, but more aromatic.

Blend the blanched almonds and apricot kernels, still wet from blanching, until they are very fine, almost a paste. You may need to do this a few times, scraping the sides of the food processor.

Place in a bowl with the icing sugar and mix, first with a spatula, and then with your hand, like for a dough. At first it will seem dry and crumbly, but then it will all come together in a paste.

And here you have it, almond paste to work with. If you like you can also add a little grated lemon zest, or use vanilla sugar for a delicate floral hint.

You can colour your marzipan. I like to go for natural colours, so I made green with spirulina powder dissolved in water, and red with berry juice.

Roll and cut, like for gnocchi, and then shape with your fingers. For my main sweets I made simple shapes, but you can make fruit (on the blog tomorrow!!).

To top the marzipan with fruit I used more blanched almonds and pistachio, plus some walnuts. I made a syrup with a little sugar and water, and when hot I put the nuts into it to coat them and make them shiny and sticky. Then I placed a nut over each little marzipan sweet (I used tweezers for this, as the sugar was still hot!).

Ready to be eaten, and pretty too! A perfect Vegan and gluten free Christmas treat! And you can also use it to stuff dates and dried figs, or cover it with bitter dark chocolate.

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©


  1. Simply beautiful! I would have never thought to make marzipan from scratch. We can buy it in stores, but I always like a challenge. I also like that you used natural food colorings. So, you actually eat the apricot pit?? I keep learning things!

  2. Yes you can eat the apricot almonds, but not too many, and always blanch them: they can be toxic!

    Thank you for your lovely comment :-)