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© Denzil Green

Marzipan is very finely-ground almond paste with more sugar (about twice as much as almond paste) and sometimes egg whites. It is essentially a nut "dough" that is dry enough to roll out and shape by hand.

Marzipan is used to cover cakes, and to make moulded edible decorations out of. In the UK, it is frequently used to cover Christmas cakes and wedding cakes before Royal Icing is applied. The marzipan prevents the dark colour of the cake from leeching out into the Royal Icing, and the stiff Royal Icing from ripping up the cake's surface.

You see a lot of both the Marzipan and Royal Icing afterwards on the sides of people's plates.

In the UK and in North America, Marzipan is basically regarded as pretty naff or kitsch at this point, but it is still very popular in Europe, especially Germany and Austria. In North America, there is an annoying habit for distributors to label it as almond paste, which is very unhelpful.

You can buy Marzipan in tubes at stores. You can also buy it shaped and coloured like little animals, ranging from crocodiles to hedgehogs.

Cooking Tips

Apricot jam is also often used to stick the layer of Marzipan onto Christmas cakes.

Storage Hints

Once opened, refrigerate in a sealed container for up to a year. If it becomes hard during storage, zap on high in the microwave for 2 or 3 seconds to soften.

History Notes

It's a myth that Marzipan was invented in Lübeck, Germany in 1407. It was already known in Italy and France in the early 1300s. It is far more likely something that Arabic bakers came up with, and that crusaders came back raving about.

Literature & Lore

Some think that the word Marzipan might be a derivation from or corruption of an Arabic word "mawtaban"; others suggest "marchi panis" (St Mark's bread), or as yet another option, "mazaban", wooden boxes that almonds were shipped in during the 1200s.

During the Middle Ages, it was called "massepain" in English.

Language Notes

Called "Pasta reale" (Royal Paste) in Sicily.

See also:


Almond Butter; Almond Day; Almond Extract; Almond Flour; Almond Milk; Almond Oil; Almond Paste; Almond Syrup; Almonds; Amaretto; Blanched Almonds; Crème d'amandes; Green Almonds; Ground Almonds; Marcona Almonds; Marzipan; Pralines; Sliced Almonds; Slivered Almonds

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Also called:

Marchpane; Massepin (French); Marzapane, Pasta reale (Italian); Mazapán (Spanish)


Oulton, Randal. "Marzipan." CooksInfo.com. Published 08 September 2002; revised 18 February 2011. Web. Accessed 09/20/2017. <http://www.cooksinfo.com/marzipan>.

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