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Kitchen Queries

Welcome to Kitchen Queries, where the nigella.com team will answer your cooking or food related questions.  We’d love you to submit some of your recipe problems, dilemmas or queries for us to get our teeth into!

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  • Marzipan vs Almond Paste

    Lots of recipes call for almond paste. What is the difference between marzipan and almond paste? I have not seen almond paste here can so can I use marzipan instead? If not then is there a way to make almond paste? Thanks.

    From the nigella team:

    Unfortunately the answer partly depends on what country you are in as to which terms are used. In the UK marzipan and almond paste are the same product whereas in the US marzipan and almond paste are two different products.

    The main difference between US/European almond paste and marzipan is the ratio of ground almonds (almond meal) to sugar. Generally, almond paste will have roughtly equal proportions of almonds and sugar (plus other ingredients) and marzipan will have a higer ratio of sugar (up to 75% sugar) plus other ingredients. The larger proportion of sugar makes the marzipan smoother and easier to roll out and marzipan will always be used for covering cakes and making edible models. The other ingredients can include eggs, colourings and flavourings (often rosewater or orange flower water), cream and vegetable oil.

    If it is a UK recipe then you can be pretty sure that almond paste will mean marzipan. If it comes from other countries then you may have to make up some almond paste yourself, depending on how the paste is used. If the almond paste is rolled or moulded in any way then you can probably use marzipan (use a good quality brand which is likely to have slightly more almonds in). If the paste is spread out or mixed in with a batter then we would suggest mixing equal quantities of ground almonds and caster sugar  to get the correct total weight for the recipe and then adding enough lightly beaten egg white to bind the mixture into a paste.

    There is also a product called persipan which is made from finely ground apricot or peach kernels instead of almonds. It is cheaper to produce than marzipan so is sometimes used in commercial baking. It is also useful for people with nut allergies.

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