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A staple of Christmas cake, Battenburg, Stollen, or just enjoyed on its own, marzipan is an essential baking ingredient used all over the world. Marzipan is light, candy-like mixture made by mixing finely ground almonds with sugar, corn syrup and egg whites.
Marzipan’s primary ingredient is almonds, making it very sweet, and it can be eaten on its own or as an ingredient in other bakes.
Some say it originated in Persia, while others claim it came from Europe – but are even further divided on whether it originated in Germany, Spain, Italy or France.
In fact, the ingredient was so popular in Spain that settlers took it over to America, where it is made with peanuts instead of almonds.
Marzipan is mostly found at Christmas time, hidden under a layer of fondant icing on a Christmas cake.
The stiff nature of marzipan also means it is used to make miniature cake decorations and so on.
Many people buy pre-made marzipan as they consider it a fuss to make, but it’s actually quite easy.
This recipe, from Delia Smith, tells you how to make a delicious classic marzipan from scratch.
90g icing sugar, plus extra for dusting
90g golden caster sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
a few drops pure almond extract
1 teaspoon brandy
175g ground almonds
a little icing sugar (to knead and roll)
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Begin by sifting the icing sugar and caster sugar into a large bowl, then stir in the egg.
Place the bowl over a pan of barely simmering water and whisk for about 10 minutes, until the mixture is thick and fluffy.
Then remove the bowl from the heat and sit the base in about 5cm of cold water.
Whisk in the almond extract and brandy and continue to whisk until the mixture is cool.
At this point stir in the ground almonds and knead to form a firm paste on a surface lightly dusted with icing sugar.
Then roll out the amount needed on a clean surface dusted with icing sugar.
Keep giving it quarter turns (to keep it round) between each roll.
Once it is rolled to the right size, cover the top of the cake.
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