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Nowadays it is difficult to impress gourmets with a sweet tooth with something unusual: there are so many delicacies in the windows of pastry shops. However, in our time it is pleasant to taste an exquisite delicacy, which in the old days adorned the menu of European and Eastern nobility and cost a fortune. This marzipan is a traditional dessert made from almond flour and powdered sugar and now makes a great gift for Christmas or name day. The popularity of the delicacy adds to its versatility of use: due to its plasticity, it is suitable for making sweets, cookies, decorating cakes, making wonderful figurines and even infusing marzipan liqueur.
Now no one can establish exactly where marzipan came from, the title of his small homeland is disputed by several countries. The name is derived from the German word Marzipan, which also sounds similar in Italian. There are various versions of its origin, often talking about the Persian, Arabic or Chinese origin of the product.
The exotic dessert was first documented in the 6th or 7th century in Iranian chronicles. In the Middle Ages, Arab merchants brought the delicacy to Europe. Already in the 9th century, it was served at royal feasts in Spain. In a written source of 1512 in Toledo, Spain, the archivist of the city government reports on the invention of marzipan by the monks of the monastery of San Clemente de Toledo after the battle in 1212.
Germany, Hungary, Estonia, Italy, France consider themselves the birthplace of aristocratic delicacies. In the 19th century, marzipan from Lubeck and Koenigsberg was famous throughout Europe. One of the legends explains the appearance of an almond-sugar delicacy with a poor harvest of bread due to natural disasters more than a thousand years ago. Resourceful Italians managed to replace flour in the diet with almonds, which was enough, and later improved the recipe.
According to another version, marzipan was invented by the confectioner of the Byzantine emperor. Only the ruler himself and his entourage could enjoy it, mere mortals could not afford to buy marzipan. Subsequently, the Turkish confectioners got the recipe for making almond delicacies, from them specialists in other countries gradually learned it.
In the Middle Ages, marzipan was used as a medicine. In one of the oldest Baltic pharmacies, the delicacy was recommended for the treatment of migraines and mental illnesses. In fact, the remedy worked well because of the beneficial properties of almonds, a source of important vitamin E that acts as an antioxidant and relieves tension.
The marzipan recipe was brought to our country in the 18th century by German confectioners. Almond sweetness was very expensive in those days. Figured sweets from it were presented to noble courtiers, envoys of other states, the emperor himself.
Now a wonderful almond delicacy is available to everyone - it is not at all difficult to buy marzipan. In Germany, Norway, the Netherlands, it is prepared for the Christmas holiday in many families. There are many traditional recipes of national cuisines using marzipan in various forms:
Exquisite decorations for confectionery products are made from almond sweetness.
The city of Lubeck is considered the marzipan capital. There are concentrated factories producing various types of sweets and a municipal museum, the exposition of which introduces the history of the product. This delicious delicacy is produced by the Danish family company Anthon Berg, the founder of which came up with original recipes that combine chocolate, fruits and elite alcohol with marzipan.
There are now about 500 ways to prepare a treat based on two key methods: hot and cold. The taste and color changes depending on the additives: flavors and colors. Manufacturers usually keep the ratio of the most important ingredients secret.
Bitter almonds are an essential component imparting a peculiar taste and aroma to the delicacy. It contains a poisonous substance - hydrocyanic acid. Because of this, some countries do not allow it to be sold freely. Sometimes bitter almonds are replaced with kernels of apricot kernels, while home cooking uses a natural extract, essence, liqueur or bitter almond oil.