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Re: marzipan revisited: dyed versus painted

Poster: Mark Schuldenfrei <schuldy@abel.MATH.HARVARD.EDU>

Greetings from Tibor.

I don't have TONS of experience with marzipan, but I have some.
  Thanks to my experiments this weekend (thanks much for all the
  advice) my friends and I developed a debate about which would be
  better.  I was wondering about coloring marzipan.  I'd been painting
  it with food coloring (which had gotten rather messy) and had read
  about the possibility of kneading the color into the dough rather
  than painting onto it.  What is the recommended method?

We prepare colors, and knead them into the marzipan itself, and I recommend
this as best.  Or, use commercial grade paste, which can be found almost
anywhere that carries Wilton brand stuff.

Use the T*I*N*I*E*S*T amount possible.  We dip a toothpick into the jar a
tiny way, and smear that on the marzipan.  It really goes a long way.  I am
not exagerating.
  My other problem is being afraid of letting the marzipan get too dry
  as I try to let the food color dry.  Any ideas on this would be most

If you mix the colors in, you shouldn't have a problem with that.  Marzipan
is an almond paste, and like all nuts, it is oily.  It can still be remolded
after it dries.  Or, it can be eaten.
  Also if anyone has a very simple recipe for making my own I'd love to
  hear it.  The others I have mention almonds, sugar and various other
  ingredients that seem a little bit too much for something as simple
  as marzipan.  I was trying to keep the recipe as simple as possible.

Almonds will do.  Modern techniques are my buddy here.  Place shelled
almonds in the food processor, with a cutting blade.  (Use blanched or raw
almonds without the skins on them.)  Turn it on.  Walk away... this process
can take quite a while.  You want to powder the almonds.  Suddenly, after
several minutes, the almond meal will progress to a powder, and start to
form a ball and stick together.  This is a marzipan base.

Sweeten to taste.  I can't say I've measured, but use at least one to one of
sugar to almonds, maybe more.  Confectioners sugar grade will work best for
you. Note that "confectioners sugar" as sold by, say, Domino, has cornstarch
in it.  If you are going to an authenticist, get pure sugar ground to
confectioners fineness from a specialty baking or pastry supplier.

After having done this once with machines, if you want to be authentic and
use a mortar and pestle, you are a dedicated fanatic, and I salute you.

When working with marzipan, dust your hands with sugar just as you would use
flour when baking.  Coat surfaces and molds with it to keep the marzipan
from sticking.

I don't recall where my sources for marzipan came from... let me know if you
cannot find your own.

If you check Joy of Cooking, they talk about fondant and boiling, and adding
flavorings.  These are not supported by my reading from period, but they do
make a better marzipan...  Do as you see fit.

Marzipan can turn, but it takes a LONG time.  The oil will not go rancid
easily.  Unlike gum tragacanth (sugar paste) which will last for years, I
wouldn't eat marzipan after more than a few months, without caution.
Refrigeration will make it last longer.  (I have a jar of sesame and almond
oil at room temperature on my shelf, and have for years.  The intensity of
the flavor is less, but it is still edible.)

	Tibor (Sometime cook, and my wife is a soteltie expert.)
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