You can make your own marzipan.
I was at Ikea the other day. I'm going to confess that I was there to buy a cute nylon playhouse and tunnel. I don't have any small children to play in this
house. I do, however, have two dogs...
On my way out of the store I stopped to get a drink. I adore that lingonberry soda they have. I also did some Easter
shopping. There were some sweet paper mache eggs to fill with candy, Swedish chocolates, as well as Daim, which is a delicious crunchy toffee covered with chocolate. Nestled among these confections I noticed a purple-wrapped
rectangular mass labeled "Marzipan." I got a couple of packages, slurped my soda, and left with my prizes.
Once home, after coaxing the dogs through the tunnel several
times, I emptied my Ikea bag and stared at the two bricks of Marzipan. I opened one, cut a slice from the slightly brownish, play-dough like mound, and was pleasantly surprised. The texture was like the inside of a Jr. Mint
and it tasted of sweet almonds. It made me want to eat more. My previous experiences with this substance was small to nill. I knew that you could get little fruits made out of it, but had never seen it in this raw state.
A little research later, I am ready to quickly expound on the virtues, history, and uses of Marzipan. I also want to state for the record that I did, in fact, stop eating it after that first
couple of tastes... even though that 17 oz bar was gone after a couple of days! One of the first things I noticed after reading comments on the Marzipan recipe pages was that lots of people seem to make this stuff just to eat, not necessarily to make
into candy or use in baked goods.
Today, Marzipan is made from almonds or almond paste, almond extract,
powdered sugar, rose water, and corn syrup or egg white. Historically, according to Wikipedia and German Pulse, it consisted primarily of sugar or honey and almond meal augmented with almond oil. It is and was made into sweets that are chocolate-covered
or formed to look like fruits, vegetables, and other shapes. It is also rolled into thin sheets and used for icing cakes or for layers inside cakes such as fruitcake in the UK. It is baked into Stollen and tarts and some versions of King Cake for
Carnival. It is traditionally used at Christmas and Easter in Western Europe.
Versions of Marzipan are made all over the world. It dates back to 1800 BC in ancient
Egypt and earlier in Persia, and was thought to have been brought to Europe by returning crusaders in the 13th century. At that time sugar was expensive and so Marzipan was typically found only at the tables of affluent, noble, or royal families.
In the early 1800's the price of Marzipan dropped due to the industrialization of sugar production from sugar beets. Everybody got to eat it!
In 1806, taking advantage
of the changing availability of sugar, Johann Georg Niederegger took over a confectioner's shop in Lubeck Germany and started making Marzipan for the masses, Today, Lubeck is world famous for its Marzipan.