Anyone who loves to bake is probably familiar with almond paste and marzipan. However, to those outside the baking world, the differences between the two ingredients can get quite confusing. The two pastes are both made out of almonds so, naturally, they get mistaken for one another all of the time. We broke down everything you need to know about both almond paste and marzipan so you'll never have to think twice about which one is which.
As the name suggests, almond paste is a paste made of almonds. A lot of almonds, in fact. To make an easy almond paste, all you need is 1 1/2 cups of blanched almonds, 1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar, and 1 egg. Almond extract is sometimes added to almond paste for a stronger, nuttier flavoring.
If you don't have a food processor (or just don't feel like making it), you can buy almond paste in the baking section of your local grocery store.
Almond paste has a semi-bitter flavor and is coarser than marzipan. It makes a great filling for dessert bars, cakes, and cookies, however, it tastes way too bitter to be enjoyed on its own.
Marzipan, which is sometimes called almond candy dough, is a product that is made from almond paste. Other ingredients include additional sugar, water, and egg whites. It can easily be made at home, but as Ina Garten says, store bought is fine.
Marzipan is smooth, sweet and malleable, which makes it great for candy molds. Sometimes bakers take their marzipan creations to the next level by adding other flavors and spices, such as vanilla, pistachio, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
Marzipan is often used to make molds that look like fruits and decorations, however it can also be used as a sweet filling or frosting for chocolates, cakes, and other confections.
It's pretty easy to see why people often confuse almond paste and marzipan for one another: they are made of almost the same ingredients. However, the key differences are important. Almond paste is more bitter than marzipan and doesn't taste great on its own. Instead, it is used as a base or filling for other baked goods. Marzipan, on the other hand, is smooth and sweet and is often molded and dyed to craft confections of all shapes and sizes. It can also be used as a filling, frosting, or just be eaten plain.
Since the textures and flavors of marzipan and almond paste are quite different, it is not recommended that you substitute them for one another. However, if you have almond paste and are in need of marzipan, you can easily add sugar and egg whites to it to get marzipan. The nice thing about almond paste and marzipan is that they contain almost the same ingredients, just in different proportions, so you shouldn't get into a bind if you make either paste homemade.