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hi everyone --

this may be a simple question, but it has been bugging me for a couple days -- are almond paste and marzipan the same thing? it seems that in recipes they specifically ask for one or the other and i was wondering if they were interchangeable. in this small town that i live in, sometimes it is difficult to find specific items.

thanks

Dunk
 

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They are very, very similar. I think marzipan is a little sweeter than almond paste. I made the babka form Bernard Clayton's New Complete Book of Breads this weekend that called for almond paste. He provides a recipe for almond paste the is basically blanched almonds, confectioners sugar and (I think) a little salt. It was easy and it worked.
 

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Both paste and marzipan have the same ingredients: sugar, almonds and glucose, but marzipan is milled to a finer consistency. It also has more sugar to allow it more flexibility for shaping. Almond paste is used for baked goods; it's stronger because it contains more almonds.

For more info, try here: marzipan
 

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almond paste is an ingredient of marzipan.
almond paste is almonds ground to pulp with steel wheels and sugar is added. it is used as an ingredient for fillings, candies and sauces.
marzipan is a candy paste made of almond paste, glucose, fondant and powder sugar. used for covering cakes and forming candies and petits fours.

yummy!
 

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Dunk,
can't say anything about German Marzipan, but Italian style almond paste and marzipan are very, very easy to make! I'm not a professional baker, but when I need some almond paste I always make it at home and the result is almost as good as the commercially available products.
The only real difference is that the homemade almond paste ends up a little greyish and not as white as the professional products, but it's due to the fact that they use a special machine called "sbiancatrice". In any case, this is not a great problem as you're usually supposed to color it or add to other ingredients...

Briefly, these are the recipes:

ALMOND PASTE

Each 20 oz almonds (shelled and peeled):
-10 oz sugar
-1 fresh egg white, or less

-Blend the almonds and sugar in a food processor to a smooth paste, with many few seconds shots (be careful to avoid heating the mixture, or the almonds will throw out their oil)
-Work the mixture by hands like a dough, gradually adding some egg white until it's very smooth. With some experience, you'll understand when stopping adding the egg white (I usually add less than 1 egg).


MARZIPAN

Each 20 oz almond paste,
from 15 to 20 oz icing sugar, according to your taste, and some more egg white if required

-Gradually add the icing sugar to the almond paste, working by hands until very smooth. Add some drops of your favourite food color (pink, pale blue and green are the most traditional)

Both almond paste and marzipan last for a couple of weeks if sealed in plastic film and refrigerated.

I usually make sweets with marzipan making small balls (about the same size of a quail egg), sticking to them walnut kernels or pieces of dried figs or dates and coating half of the sweets with melted semi-sweet chocolate. If you put the nuts or dried fruits inside, you can make small egg-shaped sweets that can be very nice as Easter presents.

When I have time and are in an artistic mood, I also have a lot of fun making the "Martorana fruits" (typical Sicilian marzipan fruits) or decorative sheets for the Cassata alla Siciliana.

Considering the high price of the commercial marzipan, I suggest you to try making it at home...you'll be surprised by the results!:)

Pongi
 

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Oh! I forgot to tell you that, to get the original taste, you must add some drops of Orange Blossom Water. If you can't find it you can substitute it with Rose Water or (maybe) a very few vanilla flavour.

Pongi
 

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I was watching an art history program last night, with Sister Wendy. She was talking about St. Francis, and what an impoverished life he led. But in his last days of life, someone asked him if there was anything he wanted, and he asked for marzipan. Of all things!
 

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I have checked my recipes (what I couldn't do yesterday as I have Internet connection at work and my cookbooks at home) and have been wrong on a point. When making almond paste for marzipan, the procedure is slightly different because you must cook the sugar in advance:

1)Process the almonds with a tbsp sugar to a paste;
2)Make a syrup with the remaining sugar and 1 tbsp water and cook it until it's transparent (the recipe doesn't specify it and to tell the truth I don't care so much about this point, but I think you have to reach the "small bubble" stage).
3)Cool it down until it begins to turn white, then add it to the almond paste and work firstly with a spoon and when cold by hands, until it's smooth;
4)Add the egg white and the orange blossom water, work again, then add the icing sugar and the food color.

You must cook the sugar when you aren't supposed to cook the whole almond paste afterwards; on the other side, if you are making a cooked sweet (in example, cookies) you can use the "raw" almond paste. This probably the reason why I made the mistake...I make too many "Quareximali" cookies in this period!:)

Pongi
 

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He was a Saint with good taste. In those days marzipan was a treat only the rich could afford.
 
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