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Almond Paste and Marzipan

Three methods/recipes for almond paste and variations. I started making it using the wonderful boiled sugar method, because I couldn't get it in the grocery store in my small Arkansas town. More commonly, people see the recipe for confectioner's sugar almond paste, it will do in a pinch, but has egg whites, uses more sugar and doesn't keep as well.

If you want to make a fondant icing, go to cookduke's terrific and simple recipe fondant recipe. It makes enough fondant to cover two 10 round cakes, with enough leftovers for decorations, and the pictures are great.

Polly's Recipe
with cherry brandy
marzipan balls
A food processor recipe and variations Quick confectioner's
sugar method
(egg whites)

Polli's Marzipan Recipes by Polli Turner
This recipe in Polly's own words, the best Christmas candy. Start several days ahead to allow time for blanching and drying your almonds- it's important. If you make the almond paste and put it in the refrigerator for a week or two, it gets even better.

Almond Paste (egg free!)
I make marzipan balls and dip them in chocolate--a wonderful combination! The marzipan is made in two steps: first you make almond paste, and then use it to make your marzipan.

Ingredient tips:Rose water is best purchased from an herb store. Blanch almonds by dipping in boiling water for 1 min., then pinching skins off nuts. Allow to dry well on cookie sheets for several days, stirring and turning the nuts occasionally. Do not dry in oven!

Blanch as much as you need, but from now on, work with one pound batches of almonds. Put nuts through a food processor for two to three minutes, or until finely ground and oily. For each one pound batch:
Mix in saucepan:

2 c. sugar cook to the end of the soft ball stage, or 240F (Ellen's note: this takes 20-30 minutes).
1 c. water
ground almonds (1 lb. batch)
4 tablespoons of water
1 tablespoon of rose water

Stir mixture well, and pour into a plastic food storage bag to store. If lumpy, you can knead it in the bag when it cools some. To store, drop plastic bag into 1 qt. ziploc freezer bag, and seal well. Stores in fridge for a month or so, or can store in freezer indefinitely. It's best to make this a couple of weeks before you need to use it.

Kirschkugeln "Cherry Brandy Marzipan Balls"
--Our favorite! Makes about 110 balls.

To make marzipan:
Start with one bag of the almond paste. Get a good kneading surface (I have a large pastry board), and spread lots of powdered sugar. Begin kneading the almond paste on it, gradually working in the powdered sugar (approximately 1 pound sugar per pound of almonds).

Add 2 T. Kirschwasser (German cherry brandy) (or vanilla, rum flavoring, rose water,lemon juice, etc.), one at a time.
Continue to knead it in, and adding more powdered sugar as needed. Knead until no longer sticky, feels a bit like bread dough that has been kneaded well. You will use about a pound of powdered sugar per batch!

Roll into balls about the size of a hazelnut.

How to temper dipping chocolate

Melt Baker's semi-sweet chocolate squares, beginning with 5 squares, til smooth, either in a double boiler, or in the microwave.
Remove from heat, and add three more squares, allowing to melt. This tempers the chocolate, and brings it to a good dipping temperature.
Repeat the process when you run low, but don't let yourself run all the way to the bottom of the bowl, as it causes streaks in the chocolate. I like to keep my chocolate bowl sitting over hot water in the bottom of the double boiler, to keep it from cooling too fast.

Dip the balls, and place on wax-paper-lined cookie sheets. Do not let them sit with direct sun on the candies, or in a warm place like the top of the fridge!

When finished with a pan, allow to dry in the coolest room in the house. When dry, place candies in paper petit fours-fours cups, and store in a tightly closed tin, in a cool place (warmth will separate the chocolate, turning it white--it's fine to eat, but doesn't look so pretty!) Stores best in the freezer for long term, or in the fridge for short term. I make one or two batches each year to give and enjoy, and then have enough for us to enjoy or share with guests through the year.

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Almond Paste in the Food Processor
This write up is outstanding. Go enjoy their book.
Copyright (c) 1998 by Andrew Schloss and Ken Bookman.

Almond paste is the basis for many sweetmeats. It can be colored and flavored with rose, orange, and pistachio and used to stuff dates and prunes or embraced with matching halves of walnuts. You can buy it in the baking section of most supermarkets and then tint and color it yourself, but it is a fraction of the cost to make it yourself and yours will be much fresher.

A modern facsimile of this ancient hand-pounded confection can be made swiftly in a food processor. It's good to make it at least a week in advance so that the flavor of the almonds can ripen fully. It will keep for six months, refrigerated, so you can make it well before the holiday season becomes hectic.

There are many varieties of almonds, and they differ in shape, size, and taste. Unfortunately there are not so many varieties to choose from in a typical market, but the mission almond, grown in California, can occasionally be found. Missions are small; there are usually two almonds with hard, pointed tips in a shell, tightly curved against each other. They are a little harder to peel than other almonds, but their flavor is clearly and pronouncedly almond, closer to the virtually unobtainable butter almond that is traditionally used in almond paste and marzipan, and they smell wonderful when they are being ground.

Almond Paste
Makes approximately 1 pound

2 cups whole almonds, preferably Mission
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
a few drops of almond extract

Cover the almonds with boiling water and let them stand for at least a minute. Slip off the skins with your fingers. If they are very stubborn, cover them again with boiling water or let them soak and remove them just a few at a time to work on.

Combine the sugar, water, and corn syrup in a pan and cook, without stirring, until the temperature is 235 degrees F. Then stir in the almond extract.

While the syrup is heating, preheat the oven to 250 degrees F. Put the peeled almonds on a cookie sheet and leave them just long enough to dry out and warm up, about 8 to 10 minutes. Then, while they're still warm, grind them in a food processor until the texture is fine and smooth. If necessary, add 1 or 2 tablespoons of water to loosen the mixture and make it easier to process.

With the food processor going, gradually pour in the syrup in a slow, steady stream. Process until the paste is uniform. Remove it from the work bowl, wrap it well in plastic wrap, and refrigerate it until needed. To make it soft and easy to work with, put it in a warm place, such as on top of the stove while the oven is on, or heat it in a double boiler or a steamer set over simmering water.

Orange Almond Paste

1 recipe almond paste
grated zest of 4 large oranges, or more to taste
2 teaspoons orange flower water, or to taste
1 drop orange food coloring, or more

Knead the almond paste with the rest of the ingredients or mix them in the food processor. Make any other additions, such as more orange flower water or coloring, gradually and carefully. The flavors will deepen as the paste ripens.

Rose Almond Paste

1 recipe almond paste
a few drops of beet juice or red food coloring
1 to 2 teaspoons rose water, or to taste

Knead the almond paste with a few drops of beet juice or food coloring until it is as pink as you wish. Then work in rose water to taste.

Pistachio-Almond Paste

In the almond paste recipe, replace 1/2 cup of the almonds with 1/2 cup unsalted pistachio nuts. Put the pistachios in a preheated 350 degree F oven for about 10 minutes to dry and loosen the skins; then remove the skins with a paring knife or your fingers. They should come right off. Work the pistachio nuts with the almonds in the food processor. If you wish to end up with a uniform pale green color, add either some concentrated spinach juice, a drop or 2 of green food coloring, or about a tablespoon of powdered Japanese green tea, matcha (a wonderful suggestion from Rose Levy Beranbaum's The Cake Bible)

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Almond paste with confectioner's sugar


3 cups blanched almonds
4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
3 egg whites
1 teaspoon almond extract


Grind almonds in a blender. Thoroughly mix in confectioners sugar.

Beat egg whites slightly, then stir into the almond mixture.

Add almond extract or rose water, using your hands to blend the heavy mixture. Roll out, and use as desired.

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