There are some seasonal food components that just always make dishes better. Marzipan is one of them. This intricate mixture has a lovely taste and smooth texture, and it is especially great for decorating dishes.
However, marzipan isn’t always ideal for all situations. There are times when it just doesn’t do.
So, what is the best substitute for marzipan? Almond paste is the most ideal substitute for marzipan, standing out in a not-so-crowded field. Since they are made from the same thing, marzipan and almond paste do have some factors in common that make them comparable substitutes.
An Overview of Marzipan
Many believe marzipan to be the original iteration of what fondant is today. This paste is made of almonds and sugar primarily, and it has been a regular in the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern regions for centuries.
Marzipan is usually made by cooking almonds with syrup and letting the mixture cool and settle. Sometimes, you could mix some ground almonds with powdered sugar and premade fondant. With these ingredients, marzipan makes a great material for decorating dishes. Also, unlike the commercial fondant, marzipan actually has a good taste – although some might say it is too sweet.
Marzipan is available pre-made, and you can make it yourself. In general, it is a great ingredient to have when the holiday season rolls around.
Why Substitute Marzipan?
- Nut allergies: Marzipan contains almonds. If you are allergic to nuts, then marzipan will not be the best for you. It will be much better to get something different for your recipe.
- Taste differences: Marzipan is famous for being incredibly sweet. Some people might not be too comfortable with that sweetness level, and something different will be much better.
Options for Marzipan Substitutes
Best Overall Substitute for Marzipan: Almond Paste
Finding a substitute for marzipan is almost impossible. It is so unique that there’s hardly anything that gives the same taste and feel. But, if you’re looking to substitute it nonetheless. Almond paste is the best way for you to go.
The primary similarity between almond paste and marzipan is that they are made from the same thing – almonds. So, there is a bit of a similarity when it comes to taste and texture. But, there are also some significant differences.
Most prominent is the fact that almond paste and marzipan don’t have the same structure. Marzipan is sweet, smooth, and molded into shapes. On the other hand, almond paste is less sweet and has a coarse texture. You should note that there are different variations of almond paste, with some being sweeter than others. If you’re looking for a substitute for marzipan, you should get one that’s as sweet as possible.
Almond paste shines mostly when used as a filling for cakes, cookies, tarts, and other pastries. It is especially great when paired with chocolates and certain fruits. Depending on the recipe, you can cook your almond paste or let it run raw into the meal. Of course, this is much different from marzipan – which is mostly used as a decorative and aesthetic piece.
For preparation, note that you might need to add more sugar to your almond paste if you want to use it as a marzipan substitute. Remember that almond paste isn’t so sweet.
Best Substitute for Nut Allergies: Nut-Free Marzipan
As explained earlier, the almond content of marzipan means that it might not be so great for people who have nut allergies. To that end, you could actually make a nut-free version of it to make it more ideal.
To get this done, you’ll need the following:
- 5oz of semolina
- 5oz of icing sugar – preferably sifted
- 2 tablespoons of custard powder
- 1 egg white (or 1 tablespoon of egg replacer)
- 2 tablespoons of almond essence (or orange flower water or vanilla essence)
All you have to do is mix the icing sugar and semolina with the custard powder. Lightly beat the egg white and add it to the mix, then add some flavoring. As expected, mix it all until you get a firm paste.
From there, get a rolling pin and dust it – as well as your work surface – with the icing sugar. Roll it out, and you’re ready to go.
Best Almond-Free Substitute: Coconut Paste
If you remain concerned about the almond content (perhaps you have a strong nut allergy), coconut paste is something you should consider.
With coconut paste, you get a whole coconut – as well as the coconut oil – that is ground and proceeded into a smooth paste. Like marzipan, coconut paste is lovely, with a sweet taste that is perfect for desserts and pastries. Get a spoon of this with some juice and orange segments, and you’ll know you have something special in your hands.
Another benefit of coconut paste is that it is easy to find around. But, you will also need to be careful with what you buy. There are a lot of variations, and getting the ideal coconut paste might not be so easy. Still, as you try different brands, you’ll be able to get the right one and apply it to your cooking.
In general, coconut paste is a joy to work with. It has coconut meat fiber in it, so it remains solid even when the temperature gets warmer. Coconut paste will never become liquid, but you should note that it can develop a bit of a bitter taste when it gets warm. It is great in desserts as it improves sweetness and develops a fudge-like texture.
You can make coconut paste on your own as well. All you’ll need is two cups of freshly grated coconut and about 1 cup of milk (coconut milk or cream can also work perfectly).
To work, add the coconut with the milk. Remember to watch the proportions. The ideal paste will be thick and rich. Store it in the fridge for about a week, and you’re ready to go. You can always store the mixture in a plastic bag for proper storage if you want.