Marzipan covered with chocolate – both elements homemade, both amazingly lovely and both vegan. Make your own marzipan and your own dark chocolate and there’s a chance you won’t often touch shop bought ones!
Can you make marzipan at home?
We got it all wrong about marzipan. The majority of us think it’s something to be bought in the shops rather than made at home, or actually not worth bothering with at all.
I used to think so. I thought it was a sickly, disgusting unnaturally white stuff reeking of artificial almond essence – and I was right because shop-bought marzipan is precisely that (at least supermarket-bought. I’m not going to criticise respectable confectionery suppliers whose products might be mighty fine).
Yes you can!
But a homemade marzipan is a totally different affair. It’s lovely, it’s fragrant, it’s supple like the best fondant icing, so much so that you can wrap a whole cake into it. You can make topping layers for cakes from it, and even fashion apostles out of marzipan – or at least balls symbolising the twelve disciples.
It is fragrant with almonds and rose water which, though not classically obligatory, is essential in my view. It is lightly tangy with lemon juice which, again, in my opinion is a required addition even though authorities are quiet about lemons in marzipan. But it does not need to contain eggs.
What is ‘raw marzipan’?
Ask any British home cook what ‘raw marzipan’ is and I’m sure they will say it’s uncooked almond mass made with egg whites, egg yolks or both. Ask an American pastry maker about proportion of almonds to sugar in marzipan and they will say one part to three parts, respectively.
Both these assumptions are wrong. The Germans do it simpler and better.
Marzipanrohmasse, raw marzipan, is very simply the base mixture of almonds with only 30-35% sugar in the content. If used for baking, like in Stollen or Simnel cakes, that is what you would use.
No eggs in marzipan
Marzipan itself, the same word in German as it is in English, for truffles, confectionery or wrapping Battenberg cakes, is the ‘raw mass’ with added sugar. Almond essence features in neither, rose water usually in both and there is no trace of egg – white or yolk.
That’s because the British are too impatient and expect instant result. Marzipan is crumbly? Okay, let’s bind it with eggs, that will fix it.
There’s so much sugar in it (because they don’t follow the correct proportions) that even the squeamish should be happy eating it uncooked (sugar kills bacteria. didn’t you know? what wonderful news it is?).
So how do you make marzipan paste?
But it’s wrong, it just needs a little patience. Kneading and kneading the almonds with (a little!) sugar, patiently and for a long time, makes it wonderfully supple, smooth and flexible. No egg is necessary, no chickens harmed. Which makes it vegan as well.
Almond essence is redundant too, instead you should add a few ground bitter almonds to the mass, which have unparalleled fragrance in spite of the bitter taste. Or a few drops of cyanide. Just joking.
German marzipan truffles or Marzipankartoffeln
Traditional for German Christmas, the sweets are probably made with the marzipan leftover from making Stollen. The marzipan is rolled into balls (they must have incredibly small potatoes in Germany) and simply coated in cocoa powder.
Homemade vegan chocolate
I went a bit further as I don’t much like raw cocoa powder, and it’s messy. I made my own dark chocolate, but completely sugar free (marzipan being rather sweet on its own), and vegan to boot.
And I’ll say it’s actually easier to make than melting chocolate chips: soften the cocoa butter in the microwave or over a bain marie, stir in the cocoa powder and that’s all.
The truffles keep well, they don’t need to be stored in the fridge – hey, there’s no egg or dairy in them! And another example of how vegan does not mean ersatz.