Anyone who has a sweet tooth will have encountered marzipan. This soft paste is often used in cake icings and pastries. It is often shaped into sweet, edible “sculptures” and then painted with food coloring—leading to food that is almost too pretty to eat!
Marzipan is made with almond paste, powdered or confectionary sugar, and a liquid like water, corn syrup, glucose, or egg whites. The mixture should have a dough-like consistency and stretch like rubber. It is then rolled then cut into the desired shape, or draped over the cake and painted on. Sometimes It is molded or shaped with cookie cutters or knives to create three dimensional decorations. For example, marzipan flowers are often used to decorate wedding cakes, while experienced cake artists can create entire sculptures that resemble anything from the Eiffel Tower to a three-dimensional rendering of a birthday celebrant’s profile.
When marzipan is draped over a cake, it must be “bound” to the surface with a fruit glaze. This helps the cake from completely falling apart. Care must be taken in order to make sure that the marzipan is spread evenly and that there are no wrinkles or air bubbles.
There is also such a thing as marzipan candy, which is also made with almond paste but it dipped in chocolate or other flavorings. It is normally shaped into fruits or holiday shapes like Santa or angels, but it can also be rolled and cut into cubes.
Many people make their own marzipan, but it is also possible to buy pre-mixed marzipan from specialty baking shops.