When it comes to this unusually named candy, the first thing many want to know is what exactly marzipan is.
Some claim that the candy originated in Persia and was later introduced to eastern Europe where it eventually became a specialty of the Baltic Sea region of Germany but the true origins are shrouded by time. Marzipan is confectionary made up of ground almonds, glucose, and sugar and derives its characteristic flavor from bitter almonds, which constitute 4% to 6% of total content by weight.
It is interesting to note that there are strictly-held guidelines by which to judge if what you have made is technically marzipan or whether the proper ingredients are present. For proper marzipan composition it must contain approximately 25% almonds to be considered marzipan.
Pastry chefs have used marzipan candy for many centuries to create a vast assortment of delectable treats. For instance, chefs have been using this delicious candy to fill cakes and cover them instead of using a more traditional frosting.
For this purpose, the marzipan is rolled into thin sheets and glazed for icing cakes. Traditionally, it is used in wedding cakes and Christmas cakes, as well as other specialty cakes. Though marzipan is a wonderful ingredient and looks beautiful and colorful as a cake decoration, it can be molded into almost any shape imaginable, including figurines.
Creating these small figures serves a dual purpose as they not only look good, but they are edible as well. Common examples include: marzipan-filled chocolate and small marzipan imitations of fruits and vegetables. The popularity of this candy is underscored by its nearly global presence is various recipes.
It should suffice to provide a few examples of how marzipan in used in other countries. In many of these countries it is shaped into small figures of animals, such as pigs, as a traditional treat for New Year's Day.
Marzipan is also used in Tortell, and in some versions of king cake eaten during the Carnival season. In Italy, particularly in Palermo, marzipan is often shaped and painted with food colorings to resemble fruit—Frutta martorana—especially during the Christmas season. This flexibility is one of the reasons for marzipan’s surge in popularity. You can use it in the creation of a variety of tasty treats.