Gluten free marzipan is not impossible to find, but it ain’t easy, either. And it’s riDICulously expensive! $8.95 for 11 ounces is not my idea of shoestring-friendly gluten free. But did you know how easy it was to make your very own marzipan in your very own kitchen? Well it’s not as easy as, say, not making it, but it’s easier than you think. Somewhere in the middle there, you find this gluten free marzipan recipe.
I thought about (okay, I tried for longer than I really had allocated to the task) to shape this marzipan into all sorts of adorable animals. I think marzipan fruit shapes are creepy but only because I have an unfortunate personal childhood history of marzipan fruit that spent way way WAY too long on display in my home. It does go bad. It DOES. Anyway, I gave up on the shapes as they weren’t gorgeous enough to do justice to this. Instead, I made easy truffles (cream + chocolate = truffles but if you’d like a recipe there’s one in my first gluten free cookbook page 235) and then wrapped them in the result of this marzipan recipe.
All you need is some sugar, water, 1 egg white and some blanched almond flour, then some confectioner’s sugar for kneading. You can use whole blanched almonds, and just get a result that is not nearly as smooth. But that’s neither here nor there, and entirely up to you. We’re going to cook sugar, but we did that for gluten free licorice, and then lived to tell about it. Right? I took plenty of step by step photos for you, but the idea is this: you cook the sugar to create a rich simple syrup. It has a very high sugar:water ratio, so when you cook it to 240°F (the so-called softball stage) and then whisk it as it cools, it becomes cloudy and appears to thicken. Then, all that’s left to do is to add the almond flour and egg white, cook again briefly over low heat, and then knead in confectioner’s sugar until the marzipan becomes smooth.
A small saucepan, whisk, cheap-o instant read candy thermometer and a bench scraper* are all the kitchen equipment you need to make marzipan. And it just takes a few minutes.
*You really should have a bench scraper or something like it. It is going to be essential in your life when Gluten-Free on a Shoestring Bakes Bread comes out November 2013.
I’ve shied away from baking too often with almond paste and marzipan as they’re such expensive ingredients. I am happy to report that I am officially over my shyness.
Gluten Free Marzipan
1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
1/3 cup (2 2/3 ounces) water
1 cup (112 g) blanched almond flour (or an equal amount, by weight, whole blanched almonds, ground in a food processor)
1 egg white (30 g) at room temperature
1/2 cup (58 g) confectioner’s sugar, plus more if needed
Assemble all of the ingredients so that they are within reach. In a small, heavy-bottom saucepan, place the granulated sugar and water and whisk to combine. Attach an instant-read candy thermometer to the side of the pan with the sensor in the mixture and not touching the side or bottom of the pan. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, and then turn the heat to medium-low. Cook, undisturbed, until the mixture reaches the soft ball stage (240°F). Remove the saucepan from the heat, and whisk the syrup until it becomes cloudy and almost creamy. Run the bottom of the saucepan under cold water to cool the syrup a bit.
Add the almond flour and the egg white to the syrup, and mix to combine. The mixture will be thick and clumpy. Return the saucepan to the stove and cook over low heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture melts and then thickens (if you run a spatula through the mixture, it will leave a trail). Remove the saucepan from the heat and scrape the marzipan into a medium-sized bowl. Sprinkle the top with some confectioner’s sugar and allow it to cool briefly. Once the marzipan is no longer too hot to handle, scrape it onto a flat surface sprinkled generously with confectioner’s sugar. Using a bench scraper, fold and knead the marzipan until it becomes smooth, dusting with more confectioner’s sugar as necessary to help it hold together.
Press the marzipan into a log or a ball, cover tightly with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator until ready to use. It should keep well for about 2 weeks.