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1 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups blanched almonds
2 T brandy or sherry (or more, as needed)
Lemon juice can be substituted for the brandy, but the flavor will not be the same.
If you do this, you should use the almond extract.
1 extra large egg
1 tsp almond or ratafia extract (optional)
Set blender running and slowly add almonds, about half a cup at a time.
As they form a stiff paste in the bottom of the blender,
stop and scrape them out into a bowl and continue until all the almonds are ground and in the bowl.
They should be as fine as fine breadcrumbs.
Break up any stiff mass that has formed, and add the sugar.
Rub the mixture through your hands, or with a pastry blender until uniform.
Remove any large pieces of unground almond.
Then sift in the confectioner's sugar and stir well .
In another bowl beat the egg with the brandy and add the almond extract if used.
Set the bowl over a pan of hot water, or cook in a double boiler, beating until the custard thickens slightly.
Pour the custard onto the almond mixture in the bowl, and work the two together.
It may take a little time for the sugar to dissolve and the oils in the almonds to emerge, so that the whole can be worked into a smooth workable paste. If there really is not enough liquid, you can add more brandy.
It should mould easily. If it is too soft to form a ball, you can add more almonds and sugar.
It is important at this point to wrap the ball of marzipan tightly in wax paper or cling film to stop it drying out.
Marzipan can be rolled out, using confectioner's sugar on the board and rolling pin, to stop it sticking.
It can be modelled into fruits or animals, which can be painted with food colouring.
If the finished models are brushed with eggwhite, they will not dry out.
They can be hung with ribbons on the Christmas tree, or served as petit fours after a meal.
Alternatively, marzipan can be rolled into a circle and used as a topping for cakes.
(The traditional British Easter cake, called a Simnel Cake, is a light, lemony fruit cake, flavored with candied orange and lemon peel.
A layer of marzipan is placed in the baking pan after half the batter has been poured in,
and is baked in the cake, forming a sort of built-in sticky-gooey filling half way up the baked cake.
When the cake has cooled, then the rest of the marzipan is used to "ice" the cake,
and marzipan chickens, eggs and nests are glued to the cake with eggwhite or sugar syrup.
The whole is then browned under the broiler.)
For the traditional English Christmas cake, a circle of marzipan is glued to the top of a moist plumcake with apricot jam.
Sometimes the sides of the cake were marzipaned, too.
The cake was then usually covered with a layer of white icing and decorated with small santas, fir trees, snow babies, etc..
Sometimes, though, the marzipan was simply topped with a few marzipan fruits, whole almonds, etc, brushed with a sugar syrup glaze, and browned lightly under the broiler.

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