Some people — like my husband who claims it “tastes like medicine,” — fail to see marzipan’s charms but you won’t find any of these misguided souls on my side of the family. My mother loves marzipan, and not those little food dye brushed animals and fruits; she does not wish to eat miniature sculptures, just rolls and rolls of marzipan swaddled in bittersweet chocolate.

Whenever she makes it into the city, my mother gets her beloved Marzipan Rolls from the esteemed Li-Lac Chocolates, a place so old, my parents went there back before they were married in 1968. (Don’t you love making jokes about how old your parents are? It’s like clinging to that last thread of evidence that you could possibly still be young.) Li-Lac is one of those Village gems, a place that’s been making chocolate the same way since 1923, from a big copper kettle in the back, on marble countertops, by hand and with minimal brouhaha. There’s no color-schemed boxes lined with velvet or gold, nothing is ever pre-packed, and yes, you can actually buy one piece at a time for those of us that love quality but fear quantity. Two years ago, after the rent on Li-Lac’s Christopher Street location of 81 years was tripled, they moved eight blocks north to Jane Street, which has really only made it easier for Alex and I to sneak down there. We love the place so much, we gave out boxes of their round flavored truffles as wedding favors. They were better than the cake, but shouldn’t that go without saying?

marzipan, log

So among the gift candies I alluded to last week was my attempt to make a tin of homemade chocolate-covered marzipan candies for my mother. For weeks, I browsed hundreds of marzipan recipes from all sorts of non-reputable sources, finally admitting that while I had the idea, I didn’t have the formula and would have to go it on my own gut. In other words: panic! But it all came together better than I’d imagined. I whirled blanched, whole almonds in the food processor for a few minutes, until the warmth of the machine moved them from powder to almost an almond butter, or yum. I heaped in a serious amount of powdered sugar, a hefty pinch of salt and a big spoonful of almond extract, which is what really pulled the flavor together. From here I paused, as it seemed the majority of recipes called for egg whites as a binder, but I wanted these to be good at room temperature for weeks, like the real ones. I ended up going with Emeril’s suggestion of corn syrup, and while it seemed to work, I’m not sure I added enough.

marzipan, ice cube tray-molded

Lacking candy molds, I pressed pieces into a funny ice cube tray we have, letting them sit for a day or so before dipping them in my very first attempt at tempered chocolate. I would not call it a success. The pieces were too cold, too crumbly, the chocolate immediately seized up around them and well, it was a mess and I couldn’t successfully coat all of their sides. But — and yes, it has taken me nearly a week to be able to say something this upbeat about the experience — it tastes exactly like the real deal, if not better. So, while I may need some tweaking and re-technique-ing when I attempt these again a very long time from now, it’s hard to call these failures when each and every sample bite I took (for research, of course) left me filled with excitement of the most ‘duh’ variety! “They taste like chocolate covered marzipan!” More importantly, mom agrees.

marzipan mice!


As I mentioned, this was only my first time making this, but the flavor was spot on. I found the texture too crumbly to hold up when impaled on a fork and dipped into chocolate (fantastically simple chocolate-tempering instructions can be found here), but fine if you just wanted to shape the pieces. Either way, a little more “goo” — corn syrup — couldn’t hurt.

I haven’t yet made a batch with the more traditional egg whites as a binder, but do let me know if you try it, or have a technique of your own to share.

8 ounces blanched almonds
1 3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon almond extract
4 tablespoons corn syrup

Grind the almonds in a food processor for about two minutes: it will first become crumbly, and the crumbs will get successively smaller until it is more of a fine powder. Keep it going through this stage, and when it nearly forms clumps, that’s when you’ve got it right.

Add the confectioners’ sugar and almond extract, then the corn syrup, processing until well-combined.

Turn the mixture out onto a work surface and knead until it makes a smooth dough. If the dough seems too sticky, knead in a little more confectioners’ sugar. If it seems too dry, add more corn syrup. At this point, the dough can be tightly wrapped in foil and refrigerated until needed.

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55 comments on marzipan

  1. I first made marzipan from medieval recipes using nothing but almonds, sugar, and rosewater. The rosewater is wonderful, but even better (when I started experimenting) was orange flower water. I highly recommend it.

  2. Yeah marzipan! Yeah LiLac chocolates! LiLac: yeah for chocolate covered pretzel’s, the highly airconditioned shop, purple flowers everywhere, counter staff who actually know what they’re selling, green marzipan wrapped around giandujapaste and rolled in bittersweet chocolate!

    I love marzipan. Out of the jar, inside candy, you name it. I even love the little look-alike candies in Germantown on 86th street.

  3. Chocolate-covered marzipan is practically a national dessert in Germany. The best of the best there is from a small family company called Sawade (pronounced Zah-vah-deh) in Berlin. I’ve never been able to find it here in NYC, but on my trip home next week, I’ll be stocking up for sure… :)

  4. Oh YUM. These look delicious. A friend of mine made some pignoli cookies recently and they were so good. I love almond… the smell of almond flavor makes me swoon! I wish there were more things to be had out of almond flavor / smell / taste. I need to make these I think!

  5. Emily

    I’ve been reading your posts for awhile, and you have really inspired me to be a little more experimental in the kitchen!

    After all the references to sweets and lattes/Starbucks, I feel compelled to warn you that Starbucks is carrying a Sugar Free Cinnamon Dolce syrup in January! As a barista who drinks lattes all day, I can’t handle the overwhelming amount of sweetness in the cinnamon-roll flavored syrup, but I thought someone reading this post may get excited!

  6. deb

    Skud – In my recipe hunt, I saw rosewater suggested often but I couldn’t quite match the flavor with the taste of marzipan I know. Also, though it’s never done anything to me, I’ve never cared for the floral-y taste of rose or orange flower water. I’m so difficult, I know. But I’m so glad you can attest to it’s perfection — perhaps this will get me over it, yet.

    Shuna – Of course you love Li-Lac! You have fabulous taste. But Germantown? Does that still exist? I must investigate.

    Luisa – That explains it. Mom’s family is from Germany, though she never lived there, she must have been born predisposed with a hankering for it. Now I must obsessively track down Sawade, possibly an even better present than homemade! Thanks for the idea.

    Emily – Ooh, that sounds delightful, but I’m terrifically bland with my lattes — skim, no foam, one sugar — I have no doubt others will gobble it up though!

    Kristan – Mom loved it. Of course, she has to say that she did, in the same way moms have to say that they always wanted two daughters when they get them (hee). But on this, I really really believe her.

  7. Yvo

    Hmm…. I’ve never had marzipan, like ever. I’ve only seen it in the pretty little fruit form and people always say “Don’t eat that!” so I haven’t. This looks pretty good though.

  8. Your mother is one lucky gal! I think the ice cube tray was an inspired idea. These look loverly! Gad I wish I could have helped you with this “research”. hehehe

  9. Deb, are you skilled or what?? :D

    Those marzipans look so lovely. Seriously. I even feel like trying to prepare them myself. I used to eat a lot of marzipan when I was a child – my German grandmother loved them.

  10. Mmmm…I’m crazy for marzipan! I’ve made it before with agave nectar instead of corn syrup and it worked great! I just bought a cheesy looking, but cheap “Chocolate Heaven” chocolate pot on Amazon for $14.00 …keeps the chocolate the perfect temperature for candy making or fondue.
    I couldn’t get my almonds powdery in the food processor, more like almond meal. Did you have to process it a really long time? I was worried about the motor.

  11. ne

    Hey Deb!!
    Marzipan is an extremely healthy sweet! Those blanched almonds are soo good for the mind, eyes and hair…it is often recommended to eat a couple of those everyday during exam times! of course the health factor is really highlighted if you replace corn syrup with some clarified butter, because clarified butter speedens up the almonds’ effects! Also if you want to avoid the ‘blech’ factor, you could saute the almond (powder form) with the sugar and clarified butter (or some really good quality butter) in a saucepan/wok on a very low heat, stirring it continuously, till it turns to a darker shade of cream and let it cool before shaping them.
    Yours look great!!! I want to make them soo badly now!!!

  12. Ingvild

    It is an old tradition here in Norway, where I live, to make marzipan for Christmas and easter. In my family we use almonds (preferably grinded by hand), powdered sugar and eggwhite. Some times we add a small drop of cognac too. It tastes absolutely fantastic!

  13. Nadia

    Two weeks ago I made what I assumed was almond paste (not marzipan which is meant to be more sugary and less almondy) by grinding together 250g blanched almonds with 250g confectioner’s sugar and adding 1 egg white as a binder. Your recipe uses almost equal parts, weight for weight, of almond and sugar but I think you make up for the slightly lower sugar with the corn syrup. Will definitely add a TBS of almond essence to my paste recipe next time I make it, and possibly even reduce the sugar a bit to move it away from the possibility that it might be marzipan in disguise!

  14. Deb,
    I think I can explain how to fix the “dry crumbly” problem.

    First, don’t use a food processor. Use an “almond mill” (Mandelmuehle) – one of those hand crank nut mills are great for keeping kids busy. :) The mill will shave off the almonds instead of mashing them. Milling retains the oils in the almond shavings instead of pressing it out.

    I mix roughly 2:1 of milled almonds to confectioner’s sugar in a sauce pan. I add 1 tablespoon of Rosewater (or other flavoring) per 150g of milled almonds (2T of rosewater is too much – less is better). Use water instead if you don’t want the flavoring. I add *another* 1T or 2T of water if the almonds are very dry. I typically grind the almonds right after blanching them and letting them sit on a paper towel to drip dry before milling them.

    I mix everything first in the sauce pan, then apply moderate heat while continuing to stir until the mass sticks in one ball. The trick is to heat the mixture enough to draw the oil out of the almonds while stirring. Too much heat will evaporate too much moisture causing the paste to get crumbly. Try to rescue by adding more water again after turning off the heat and then let it sit in a cool place (‘fridge) for a day or two.

    Thanks to my dad (born and raised in Germany) for the initial recipe and instructions. He’s an excellent baker and loves baking/cooking.

  15. emily

    Just made these and they turned out beautifully! I made the dough in my food processor and the texture was perfect. I let the dough sit in the fridge for, oh, half an hour, then took it out and rolled t into bite-sized balls.
    For the chocolate I melted dark chocolate chips double-boiler style and then followed the directions for tempering that Deb linked to: melt most of the chocolate in the boiler remove the pot from the burner and then stir in a handful of remaining chips (or chopped chocolate, whatever you’re using) until dissolved. Stirring in the cooler pieces tempers it, and the result is chocolate that stays gorgeous and shiny. Then I just used two spoons to roll the marzipan balls around in it.

  16. alie

    i did mine the easy way i bought store bought marzipan it comes in a little roll i got about 30 pieces out of the roll. i put the roll in the fridge to make it cold and firmer to work with then i sliced them into disks and dipped them into bitter sweet chocolate. so good then i took another roll of marzipan and made little balls and dipped them into the chocolate so good.. i would use bittersweet or dark chocolate for the marzipan. and use a good quality one let them sit in the fridge for about an hr or so

  17. Deb,
    Thanks for this – can’t wait to try it!
    Whenever I go to NYC I always look for almond gems. I love the Almond Horns at Pax…will try to duplicate it someday!

  18. tsodeman

    I first want to say I’m a huge fan of your site. My questions are how long does the marzipan stay fresh in the fridge & can you use this for your pistachio petite four cake?

  19. leukothea

    Thanks to Smitten Kitten for the original recipe, and to Grant Grundler for the illuminating comments.

    I borrowed a grain mill and milled my almonds by hand three times rather than using a food processor. This resulted in a fine, feathery powder without any oil. Then I heated up the almond powder with powdered sugar and orange blossom water. I ended up using a lot more water than Grant mentioned in order to get the mixture to start forming a ball — it had been in danger of scorching, even on medium-low heat; I believe I used several tablespoons (!). And the process took awhile. But once it started balling together, it was clear that it had transformed from almond powder and sugar into marzipan.

    I shaped it immediately and covered it with plastic wrap. I’m going to dip it in tempered chocolate tomorrow night. The texture seems right, so I’m hoping it will hold up… and the scraps I tasted were delicious!

  20. Michelle

    I just made these using one pound of almond meal, 1 T almond extract, 3 1/2 cups of powdered sugar and about 3/4 cup of corn syrup. It is awesome! My son also loves marzipan and he was making some pretty funny noises of sublime enjoyment while he was eating the dough!

  21. Deborah,
    I think I just died and went to heaven.
    I’m a relatively new reader of your blog, but having taught me how to make marzipan in my own kitchen, you have just found yourself another avid fan.

  22. Helana

    Thank you– I ran across this searching for a recipe for the (lurid, green) chocolate covered marziapn that showed up in my christmas stocking every year, that came “from the city” Looking at the recipe, I’m hopeful, and look forward to giving it a try.

  23. Caroline

    Just made Macadamia marzipan (Can you tell I’m in Australia?). Truly delicious. Adjust the recipe a little each year trying to improve it, so was reading your recipe and the comments made. Thanks for your help! I used Yellow Box honey instead of cornsyrup, too. Have not finished yet, but tastes good so far…
    Just thought I’d throw in the macadamia idea. Nothing wrong with almond (love it but I do like to do the macadamia one for my Christmas cake.

  24. Erna

    I’m so excited to try this recipe! I love marzipan. Grandpa always had dark chocolate in the cupboard and marzipan in the fridge and then we would sneak a taste between meals when grandma didn’t see. Every christmas grandpa and I would make homemade marzipan covered chocolate balls with an almond on top to give to the neighbours and visitors.. Living in Asia I’ve found it very hard to find marzipan, so this might have just restarted that tradition. Thanks for sharing! :)

  25. Lola

    My family makes marzipan every Year, for Persian New Year, but we do it a little differently.
    Equal parts confectioners sugar and ground almonds
    A few drops of food coloring (optional)
    And just enough rosewater to bring it to a paste (very very little)
    Then we roll them into oblong shapes, stick a slivered almond in one end and roll it in granulated sugar :)

  26. Rory

    Wanting to make authentic German-style marzipan with a high nut content, I was following a German recipe I found on the web. A German friend translated the bits I couldn’t understand. But the almond (500g) sugar (400g) mix seemed so dry (even with the addition of the called for 3 Tbsp of rose water) that I went looking for advice on the web and found this site. Grant’s suggestions were helpful, but like Leukothea, I finally ended up adding 5 Tbsp of water and scorching the pan a little at the end. Unless your ground nuts are quite moist (mine were bought in Germany and probably relatively dry) I suggest you add more liquid at the beginning so you don’t have to worry about scorching a dry nut/sugar mix. I am a little worried about the rose water flavour being too strong. Grant’s suggestion of 1 tsp/150 gr nuts seems like a good one. I formed it into a ball and am chilling it, but I still don’t know how easy it will be to shape, cut, or work with. I’m hoping to dip some squares in dark chocolate and possibly mix some with rum and chopped walnuts (another recipe I found ion the web). Comments and suggestions from those who have been down this road are very welcome.

  27. eLLe bEE

    Enjoying this wonderful site. Love that someone called it “Smitten Kitten” above. (Meee-Owww!) One question: Do you think I can successfully make marzipan with Trader Joe’s almond meal? In TJ’s almond meal, the almonds are ground with the skins on, which I know will make the marzipan more coarsely-textured and the end result won’t be lily-white, but I feel that won’t bother me, esp. with the extra vitamins, minerals, and fiber I’ll get with the almond skins. Any thoughts will be greatly appreciated! Thank you, Deb, for a wonderful read: gorgeous pictures and interesting stories!

  28. julibee

    I found a recipe in Cajun Country for pine cones that originally was a spicy cream cheese thing, but I replaced it with Marzipan. These are labor intensive so I don’t make many, but they are gorgeous on a cookie tray and very tasty.

    Use slivered almonds (not the thin flat slices). Toast a cup or so (I like to use a pan on the stove for this and stir them so I get a nice even color).

    Roll marzipan into small cone shapes. I’ve used sizes from a teaspoon to a tablespoon.

    Beginning at the point of the cone, insert the toasted almond slivers, one at a time (did I mention labor intensive?) and you’ll have an adorable pine cone shaped garnish that is so tasty…

  29. Shareena

    I make a great marzipan using a combination of icing sugar AND sugar syrup, works better than either on their own. Sorry, no recipe, I make it up every year…
    The rosewater sounds great, though, I will try!

  30. Shareena

    Reading through some of the later comments: I use a cuisinart processor, I have no problems at all like what is described, it works really well. As I posted above, must be the (simple) sugar syrup that helps, plus the machine’s powerful motor!

  31. Cookie_LaRue

    Thank you for this recipe! It is simple and oh so delicious!
    I followed your recipe for the most part though I did put in a little less sugar out of personal preference. These were wonderful. My first batch came out amazing and perfect. I rolled it out and cut out shapes. My second batch seemed tough and hard to combine. I added more corn syrup but it just didn’t like it. Regardless of my lack of skill, it was amazing.

  32. Carrie

    Deb –
    Would it be possible for you to provide a conversion for the 8 ounces of almonds in almond flour volume rather than weight? I’m still not tricked out enough to have a nice kitchen scale. Thanks in advance.

    1. deb

      Carrie — According to the Bob’s Red Mill almond flour bag, 1/4 cup almond flour/meal is 28 grams, which is basically 1 ounce. So, you’d be looking at 2 cups of almond flour/meal. Cups of whole almonds usually clock in at about 5 ounces.

  33. katrien

    An easy and tasty thing to do with homemade marzipan – turn it into potatoes! No, not really, but that’s what they’re called, it’s a traditional Dutch treat.

    You roll little balls in your hands or on a mat, and then you shake cacao powder into a bowl and roll each ball around in that until it’s completely coated. That’s all! Now you have “marsepein aardappeltjes” or little marzipan potatoes.

  34. Lila

    I am just getting ready to try the Marzipan. I have only had See’s before, but love it and so do my grandchildren. Now that I live on the East Coast I miss being able to go to their candy stores and was so happy to see this recipe. I also love your writing by the way! I do have a question re salt. You do not have it listed in ingredients but did mention using it earlier when talking about making yours. I know See’s uses salt (and honey) as I once asked them about their ingredients for Marzipan. How much did you use and does it matter if it is iodized? (That happens to be the only kind I have on hand.)

    1. deb

      Lila — You can use a pinch of salt, or to taste. I don’t think iodized should matter, however, in baking I rarely use it, prefer either kosher salt or fine sea salt.

  35. Lila

    Forgot to mention See’s uses both honey and corn syrup……not just honey. And I especially liked your recipe not calling for egg whites as using raw eggs is a turn-off for me.

  36. Chi

    Thank you so much for the amazing site! You inspire me to make things I would otherwise have considered impossible to even attempt. I just wanted to say that I have made your marzipan a couple of times now and love it! I have found that if I only add two tablespoons of corn syrup but supplement with approximately two tablespoons of water I can get a supple, delicious marzipan that is easy to shape and dip in chocolate. Thanks for the recipe and for bringing homemade marzipan into my life!

  37. Fiona

    Hi Deb, I’m wondering if you think honey might work ok in this recipe? I’m excited that it doesn’t contain egg, as I’m hoping to ship some to a military friend over seas. But I’m one of those pain in the ass people who tries to avoid processed sugar and am also too lazy to go buy corn syrup. Or maybe sorghum syrup? I’ve always wanted to try cooking with that.

  38. Lois Harford

    I’m late to the party, so maybe you don’t even look at this any more… but I am one of those girls who grew up in NYC (Inwood & Washington Heights, to be exact), the daughter, granddaughter, niece, cousin of German immigrants. I have had an insane passion for marzipan since I was a little girl . . . and I am approximately the generation of your parents! I don’t know why I’ve never even considered making my own marzipan… I make plenty of other things – but I intend to try it soon. The last time I bought the bulk stuff I used to use to make gifts with, I felt their quality and flavor had deteriorated. I looked at several recipes, but yours, and your story and commentary, rang true. Yum!

  39. ButtercupDC

    I kept Li-Lac in my mind for over 16 years! Finally had a chance to try the chocolate-covered marzipan this weekend from Chelsea Market and swooooooooooon!