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Marzipan is a confection made with a combination of ground almonds, egg whites, and cream of tartar that is sweetened with granulated sugar. The most important tip for making marzipan is to heat the cooked ingredients to the specified temperature, as cooking this treat is a bit of a science. Reasons for making marzipan include eating it alone as a dessert, using it to dip into chocolate to form a candy, or molding it to form shapes that could decorate a larger dessert. Preparation steps will vary according to how it will be used.
The essential cooking step to making marzipan is when the sugar is combined with water and cream of tartar in a pan and boiled. A candy thermometer should be used to keep a close eye on the temperature until it reaches 240° Fahrenheit (approximately 116° Celsius) and gets a soft, gooey consistency. Overheating the mixture will create a hardened caramel consistency that can be remedied by adding more water and sugar, and then putting it back over heat to soften.
It’s important to work quickly when making marzipan once the soft caramel has been created. The hot pan should be placed in a cool sink of water and the ground almond and egg whites stirred in until thoroughly combined. Heat is applied again for a couple of minutes, while a clean cutting board is sprinkled with powdered sugar to prevent sticking. Hot marzipan can be scooped out onto that surface if it’s going to be eaten plain or allowed to set so that it can be dipped into melted chocolate.
The recipe when making marzipan for molded decorations can be altered to include color. A few drops of food coloring can be added after the ground almond has been added. Marzipan can require extra colorant, however, because of its beige base color, so be sure to have enough coloring on hand to achieve your desired hue.
Heat-safe candy molds that feature numerous small wells with shapes such as flowers or letters can be used when making marzipan. The heated marzipan should be scooped directly into a mold that’s been lightly sprinkled with powdered sugar, using caution to keep the candy within the wells. Placing the mold in the refrigerator or freezer will speed up the setting process for the marzipan and allow it to be used sooner as a decoration. Marzipan pieces can be popped out of the mold by turning it upside down and pressing or tapping firmly on the bottom.
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