Marzipan is one of my favorite sweet treats.
Although it is available throughout the whole year, I see it as one of those ingredients that is inseparably connected to the winter season.
A popular way to consume almond paste is as a part of chocolates and various types of candy.
There are marzipan potatoes, figures, chocolate-covered loaves, Mozart balls or the famous German Niederegger marzipan from the city of Luebeck.
Nevertheless, there are certain levels of quality involved when it comes to this delicacy.
Everything You Need to Know About this Amazing Almond Paste
An important aspect is the balance between sugar and almonds:
Less sugar means better quality and more intense flavor – and a higher price.
The industry therefore developed a cheaper substitute with peach or apricot kernels used instead of almonds. This product is no longer allowed to be called marzipan, but instead it is referred to as persipan.
It is often used when producers want to lower their costs, so have a look at the description and list of ingredients when you intend to buy the real deal.
So, let’s find out about the origin of this seductive paste, what it’s made of, and exactly how this influences the different levels of quality.
Well, if only this question was simple to answer.
It is assumed that marzipan has its origins in the east. In the Middle Ages, it was brought to Europe by Arabs. It started to become popular quickly, especially in Spain.
The famous Toledo (the one in Spain not Ohio) variation that evolved there is still known around the globe. It was in the thirteenth century when it was first mentioned in Venice as marzapane.
During the fourteenth century its popularity spread further, though it was only produced by pharmacists, just like other sweet treats at that time.
However, the actual inventor of this delicacy can’t be identified for sure. One simply can’t say which city, and therefore which person, was the first one to produce this delectable sweet.
Nonetheless, it is said that two pastry chefs each founded their own production in the beginning of the nineteenth century. One of them was Johann Georg Niederegger, from Luebeck in Germany.
In German cities like Nuremberg, it became popular to make a batch and give it away as a present on holidays like Christmas. Rich patricians even produced special emblems out of the sweet paste.
Today, we know lots of different products that are either made of pure marzipan, like the little lucky pigs given as a symbol of good luck for the turn of the year, or some that contain some as an ingredient, such as various kinds of chocolate-covered pralines.
How to Define Quality
The question of what marzipan is made of can be answered easily: almonds and sugar.
But is it that simple?
Well, at least initially.
This is because, between those two ingredients, there can be made huge differences involved in combining them during production.
An important aspect that determines this is the ratio of raw paste and extra sugar.
Ground almonds and sugar are combined to form the so-called raw paste.
In general, this raw paste consists of two parts ground almonds and one part sugar, which is then heated up and roasted while its is being stirred to reduce the amount of water. It is important to keep a certain temperature during the process to maintain a good product.
Rosewater is sometimes added to provide a subtle floral flavor that complements the nutty taste.
After the production of the raw paste, extra sugar or additives can be added to the mix. The amount of sugar and additional ingredients determines the quality of the final product.
There are certain grades of marzipan. These are the official names, depending on the ratio of extra sugar:
|Luebecker Edelmarzipan (PGI)||90%||10%|
If you’re on the lookout for a nice treat, give my homemade chocolates a try. They are easy to prepare and a great gift idea. But, of course, don’t forget to keep some for yourself!
Homemade Marzipan-Hazelnut Chocolates
If I want to serve some homemade treats but I am not in the mood for baking, or I don’t have time to spend hours in the kitchen, this is the perfect way to make some sweet pralines that are filled with a nutty surprise inside.
Plus, these goodies are probably as quickly prepared as they are nibbled away.
In the US and Canada (and probably the UK) you can pick up Niederegger Lübeck Schwarzbrot’s Marzipan Mit Zartbitter Marzipan through Amazon.
Instead of using hazelnuts as a filling, make it fruity instead by stuffing each one with a homemade candied cherry.
For something a little different to pair with these on your candy dish, we recommend this recipe for white chocolate coconut delights.
- 25 whole hazelnuts
- 1 cup marzipan
- 2/3 cup dark chocolate
- Cut marzipan into 25 small cubes.
- Form small balls out of the almond paste. Press a hollow into the middle and put one hazelnut into each praline. Form again into small balls with the nut inside.
- Roughly chop and melt the chocolate. Dip the pralines into the chocolate and leave to drip off n a wire rack for a couple of hours.
Photos by Nina-Kristin Isensee, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details.
About Nina-Kristin Isensee
Nina lives in Iserlohn, Germany and holds an MA in Art History (Medieval and Renaissance Studies). She is currently working as a freelance writer in various fields. She enjoys travel, photography, cooking, and baking. Nina tries to cook from scratch every day when she has the time and enjoys trying out new spices and ingredients, as well as surprising her family with new cake creations.
16 thoughts on “Homemade Marzipan-Hazelnut Chocolates”
I have not had marzipan in a really long time. The last time I had it, my stepmother made these yucky, hard fruit-shaped sugar cookie things she called “marzipan.” After reading this blog, I looked it up online and realized that she may have taken the paste and baked it for a really long time to create three-dimensional fruit shapes.
Your recipe looks good, so I think that I need to put aside the past and give it a shot. I just had a thought… My husband’s family gathers every few months or so; I will make a batch of these to bring to one of these gatherings. If the recipe is a hit, then I will make some for my husband and I; if not, then I will either try to figure out what I did wrong or move on to another new recipe.
I think I know what kind of fruit shapes you mean, I can see them right in front of my inner eye, lying in the grocery stores around Christmas time here. They are also quite hard and “relentless” 😉
I appreciate that my recipe appeals to you, despite your marzipan-experience in the past 😉 I really like that these ones are so easy to make, without baking or else. That’s why I cross my fingers that everybody will enjoy them!
I normally homemake my own marzipan and then shape them into fruits. The problem is that if you leave them on the side or uncovered for any length of time they dry out and become hard and inedible. I wonder if that is what is happening to hers?
To keep the taste and texture, I found if you cover them in tinfoil and keep them in the fridge, they’ll get just hard enough to hold the shape without losing the moisture inside. They still have to be eaten in a few days though (Not a problem with my husband around!)
I hadn’t though about a hazelnut recipe. It seems the chocolate coating might keep the texture a bit longer. How long do these keep for?
That is right, as long as they are covered or wrapped, they will keep fresh for a longer time. Otherwise, they can quickly dry and harden. The choc-coating will help here. Even if you leave them on the counter or in a bowl of sweets for a couple of days, they will be fine. When wrapped in gift-bags or else, they’ll keep fresh for longer. Nevertheless, if you know you don’t eat as much, simply halve the recipe.
But, I can’t share further long-time experience either, because they just haven’t lasted for so long 😉
Wow, these look mouth-wateringly delicious!
We have a marzipan tradition at Christmastime. My husband is a first generation Canadian with parents from Germany. Each year at Christmas an Aunt in Germany would send a parcel that contained hand-knit mittens and such, and lots of different little marzipan figures. This was an exciting time for my husband as a little boy. When he grew up and went to Germany he went in search of marzipan and was happy to report back that there were many shops that sold massive quantities of the treat.
I have made the paste myself, using organic sugar that I whirled up into fine confectioner’s type sugar in my Vitamix, and a good quality of almonds. It was very delicious. We also have a hazelnut tree in our yard, with some hazelnuts still in the cooler from last season’s picking. I think I am ready to go with this delight!
Thank you for the yummy recipe!
Thank you, too! Oh yes, lots of stores sell marzipan products in the most various textures, shapes, and looks. I just love the little marzipan-“lucky piglets” one can buy for New Year’s Eve here. But the plain, regular paste is great to bake with at home.
It’s especially great that you’ve made it by yourself, I can see that it must have tasted wonderful. The quality is indeed decisive when it comes to products that have only few ingredients. And – with a hazelnut tree in the yard, you have no other choice than to make and snack these little goodies 😀 Enjoy!
Chocolates and nuts are my favorites.
This was an interesting read, and I’m excited to see that the best options are those with the least amount of sugar (since I’m cutting carbs, and especially sugar). That is great news.
With that in mind, I might just make some of these. I’ll probably still give most of them out, but I can have a couple. That just makes my day.
I think I’ll make them for Easter treats. Mmmmm.
Oh, choc and nuts are two of my most beloved ingredients as well!
I’m pretty sure you’ll love these goodies then. And you’re right, they will make wonderful little treats for Easter. You may not only form small balls, but little oval marzipan egg-shaped chocolates, if you’re able to roll them this way 😉 (Just a thought that suddenly came to my mind)
Oh, what a good idea. I really like the thought of making them into egg shapes. How cute!
Everyone here is going to love these. I think I’ll use mini cupcake wrappers in place of candy wrappers, since I saw some Easter print ones.
I might make an extra batch as a gift for an upcoming birthday as well with foil wrappers. These would look great in a pretty box.
Great that you like the idea. I just had to try it myself yesterday, and it worked out fine! 🙂 I had some colored chocolate sprinkles left that I added on top, and they looked really funny. Perfect for Easter!
Putting them into those lttle wrappers is a great idea too. They will probably look store-bought then!
Gosh this lovely and it seems to be so simple. I think it is just in time for Easter. I would really like to try out this recipe. I am sure it would make a wonderful treat, especially as a gift for others. My family and friends would be so impressed. Thank you for this recipe and most informative article.
I’m glad that you like the recipe. It makes a great little gift – with the big advantage that it’s not too complicated to make. I hope your family and friends will enjoy them as much as my relatives.
My sister and I used to make “easy (version of) marzipans” before… I’m not really sure if they’re really marzipans, though, lol << It's listed in a children's cookbook with the words "easy marzipan" but it's just like cookies with food color, haha.
Seeing this reminds me of that^ and I'd certainly want to make this to say "I stepped up my game" and of course, to eat some :3
That’s funny – but you know what? There are still some recipes from children’s cookbooks that I love to make today, because they are just easy and delicious. 🙂
However, I think these little ones will turn out well, too, for you. Enjoy!
Marzipan is one of my favorite sweets! Unfortunately, pre-made marzipan paste is really hard to find in my area. I like the idea of using rosewater in making it, and it probably gives it a more authentic, Middle Eastern taste. I’m sure it would be equally as nice with orange flower water. Will you be posting a recipe for making marzipan paste sometime, or is there one already on the site that I somehow missed?
Thanks for the input, HappyKoi. I suppose as marzipan is harder to find in some areas, it would probably be a good idea to post a recipe for making it from scratch! I am going to put it on my “to do” list 🙂