[bksvol-discuss] Marzipan: history and recipe

  • From: socly@xxxxxxxxx
  • To: bksvol-discuss@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sun, 06 Feb 2005 21:58:14 -0500

Since Kellie asked for a recipe, I googledIand found what I thought was 
interesting information abput the origin of marzipan, a well as a recipe. This 
post is rather long, so if you're not interested, delete now.


 So popular has marzipan become that more than 15 countries lay claim to having 
invented it. The French villagers of Bourges say that a local baker invented 
the confection in the 15th century. The Spanish tourist office would have us 
think that marzipan is of Castillian origin, and the good folks of Calcutta are 
sure that the delicious candy was concocted by a local 13th century monk. The 
residents of Tokyo are just as certain that it was first cooked up by a sect of 
Shintu priests in a local monastery, and some Hawaiians are convinced that the 
candy was a gift from the gods that watch over the volcanoes on the island of 
Oahu. Even Jerusalem has a claim to this delightful sweet. According to the 
1902 version of the Larousse Gastronomique, marzipan "was probably the product 
of some order of nuns, possibly in the Holy City of Jerusalem, who earned their 
keep by making many littlecakes and sweets and discovered the recipe."

For all of the claims, however, the truth is that marzipan evolved in the 
Middle East as early as the fifth century. In fact, it was one of the sweets 
most enjoyed by the prophet Mohammed. Thought of as a holiday treat in many 
countries, the English exchange gifts of marzipan to celebrate the New Year; 
the French enjoy it at Easter; and Germans partake of it during Fasching, just 
prior to Lent. Vietnamese find it most appealing during the Tet season and 
Tibetians consider it appropriate for wedding feasts.Arabs and Jews find 
marzipan the perfect sweet for any festive occasion.

Although the best commercial marzipan today comes from the Belgian city of 
Lille, devotees will find that making fine marzipan at home is a pleasant 
chore. The finished products may be glazed, colored or flavored. They may be 
made into cookies or petits fours and shaped to resemble fruits and vegetables.

Marzipan Recipe

2 cups sugar
2 cups blanched almonds, very finely ground
1 1/2 Tbsp. lemon juice
2 egg whites, beaten stiff

In a heavy saucepan, over a medium flame, heat the sugar and 1 1/4 cups of 
water, stirring constantly. When the mixture begins to bubble at the edges, add 
several drops of the lemon juice. Continue cooking and stirring until the 
mixture become syrupy. Reduce the flame, add the ground almonds and continue 
stirring until the mixture forms a ball the consistency of soft dough. Stir in 
the remaining lemon juice and, when well blended, remove from the heat.

Fold the stiff egg whites into the dough. Allow to cool for 15 - 20 minutes, 
stirring occasionally. Roll out the dough to about 3/4" (2 cm.) thickness. Cut 
the marzipan into cookie, fruit or vegetable shapes. Place on a cookie sheet 
and let stand, uncovered, overnight to dry. To color the marzipan, brush 
lightly with a mixture of several drops of vegetable coloring dissolved in 
water after the cookies are dry.

To glaze the cookies (optional), beat together 1 egg white and 1/2 cup of 
confectioners' sugar until the mixture is white, creamy and thickened. Add 1 
tsp. of lemon juice and beat another 5 minutes. Dip the top of each candy or 
cookie in the glaze and leave it on the cookie sheet until the glaze hardens. 
Sere fresh or store in completely dry, sealed containers.

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