Marzipan is a candy that gets a bad rap with many but is also very popular around Christmas. Basic marzipan is made from sugar and ground almonds and can have added flavors like pistachio and be covered in chocolate. Marzipan’s unique composition makes it perfect for shaping realistic figures that last a long time.
Marzipan as a Christmas treat has not been a tradition for as long as stollen and lebkuchen. Sugar was expensive until the 19th century, so the treat was reserved for the wealthy. Once sugar became less expensive, it was much easier for everyone to obtain and enjoy. Today marzipan shaped like bread or potatoes is often given as a gift around Christmas, while marzipan in the shape of a pig is considered good luck for New Year’s.
Like stollen and lebkuchen, there is one German city known for marzipan- Lubeck. Lubeck is located in Northern Germany and is known as the world capital of marzipan. Lübecker Edelmarzipan is the designation for marzipan from Lubeck. Niederegger, one of the oldest German candy companies, is located in Lubeck. It contains no added sugar, just the marzipan base made of ground almonds and sugar. It is fairly easy to find their products in the U.S., including at Spec’s (which also happens to have an excellent selection of German wine). Their products include the traditional shaped candies, marzipan covered in chocolate, marzipan cakes, marzipan filled Easter eggs, and bars of marzipan.
Ready to try your hand at making marzipan or marzipan-laced treats? Here are a few recipes to get you started: