Marzipan is an ancient sweetmeat. One of its major uses is as a layer under icing on a rich fruit Christmas cake and also at Easter as the top layer of a Simnel Cake. It is also used in Stollen, a rich and fruity yeast bread eaten at Christmas, mainly in Germanic and Scandinavian countries. It can also be shaped and beautifully painted as miniature fruits and as the filling for chocolates, either plain or flavoured. I like to add small marzipan stars on top of Mince Pies over the Christmas period. I know it is easy to buy Marzipan in packets from the supermarket, but it is so easy to make – plus, of course, you know exactly what ingredients you have used so there are no strangely named additives. If you want a yellow marzipan then carefully add a few drops of yellow food colouring until the required shade is achieved, but be careful not to over knead the mixture or it will become oily.
I have several Marzipan recipes, but used the one from Leith’s Cookery Bible: Completely Revised & Updated Edition by Prue Leith & Caroline Waldegrave. The original used vanilla essence but I substituted almond essence as suggested in several other recipes, which seemed more sensible. I do not make the full quantity: half for covering a Christmas/Simnel cake or a quarter (with half an egg) to fill a Stollen, leaving just a little over to cut out for the star topped mince pies. Providing it is well wrapped, the marzipan keeps well in the fridge for at least two weeks.
The recipe includes raw egg and may not be suitable for certain vulnerable groups of people. I expect there are egg free versions available. Delia Smith has a version using cooked eggs on her website, but I have not tried it.
Marzipan (Almond Paste)
225g/8ozs caster sugar
225g/8ozs icing sugar
450g/1lb ground almonds
2 egg yolks
2tsp lemon juice
6 drops vanilla or almond essence
1. Sift the sugars together in a bowl and stir in the ground almonds
2. In a separate bowl mix together the eggs, lemon juice and essence.
3. Add to the sugar & almond mixture and mix together with a wooden spoon. Be careful not to overmix as it will become over oily. If it is a bit sticky then add some more almonds and/or icing sugar
4. Wrap well and store in a cool paste. As it contains egg it should be used within a few days.
5. When rolling out this should be done on a dusting of icing sugar to stop the marzipan adhering to the surface or rolling pin.