Marzipan (Masapan)

Karni Einat

1 hour + 30 minutes drying time

~150 pieces

Marzipan (Maspan). Photo by Penny De Los Santos.

For special occasions like a birthday or the birth of a new family member, Karni Einat’s grandmother Leah would prepare marzipan, often packing it into petit boxes she gave as gifts. Called by its Ladino name masapan, in the family, Leah’s recipe has notes of pine that come from a tree resin called mastic, which can be purchased online. Karni asked Leah to share the recipe with her. “I didn’t want [the marzipan] to vanish when she was gone,” she explains. Leah’s left the ingredients unchanged but she’s adapted the recipe to make it easier, using a food processor in place of a meat grinder and a mixer in lieu of a wooden spoon. Following her grandmother’s tradition, she continues to pack up the marzipan into small boxes to distribute to family members.

Read more about Karni’s family story on the Jewish Food Society archive.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups raw almonds
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 2 ½ cups water
  • 4-5 mastic tears, ground with 1 teaspoon sugar in a mortar and pestle 
  • Juice from 1 lemon

Preparation

  1. Prepare the almonds: Place almonds in a large heat-proof bowl and cover with boiling water. Let stand for 5-10 minutes, then drain and cover again with cold water. Gently squeeze each almond between your fingers to remove the skin. Spread on a baking sheet and allow to dry, about 30 minutes.Wash the leaves, shake well to get rid of excess water and dry on a towel.
  2. Place the sugar and water in a large stockpot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil for 12-15 minutes until the sugar is fully dissolved and the mixture reaches a syrupy consistency. The syrup should feel tacky and a short thread should form between your wetted finger and thumb when pulled apart (be careful not to burn yourself). If you have a candy thermometer, the temperature that you are looking for is 232°F.
  3. Meanwhile, place the almonds in the bowl of a food processor and process on high for 60-90 seconds to form a fine, sand-like almond meal. Be careful not to over process.
  4. Remove from the heat and carefully add the ground almonds to the hot sugar syrup mixture, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until well combined, about 1 minute. Add the mastic and lemon juice and mix to combine.
  5. Return the pot to medium-low heat and continue mixing vigorously and constantly until the paste begins to pull away from the sides of the pan, about 5-10 minutes. It is very easy to scorch the mixture at this point, so do not stop stirring (you may want to call in a helper to trade off!).
  6. Remove from the heat and immediately transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer fit with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed for about 2-3 minutes until a dough begins to form. Let the dough rest until cool enough to handle (it will continue to thicken). If for some reason your dough crumbles when you put it in the mixer, add a couple drops of water at a time to rehydrate to a dough-like consistency.
  7. Place a piece of parchment paper (about 15 inches long) on a clean work surface. Transfer the dough to the parchment paper and form into a round, flat disc shape. Cover with another piece of parchment paper and roll out into a circle about ¼-inch thick and 15 inches in diameter. If the dough is too soft to cut or hold, you can roll it into small balls instead.
  8. Cut into 1-inch diamond shapes. Using a spatula, carefully transfer the pieces to small gift boxes or an airtight storage container placing parchment paper in between any layers. The marzipan will keep in the fridge for up to two weeks.

    Make Ahead: The almonds can be peeled the night before and stored in a dry airtight container. 

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