Marzipan originated in the Near East, eventually making its way into the Mediterranean. Crusaders brought this almond-based confection back to Europe, where it worked its way into traditional desserts and celebrations. Simply put, marzipan is little more than highly sweetened almond paste. However, its high sugar content makes it perfect for sculpting. Pastry chefs often sculpt "fruit bowls" from marzipan, along with countless animal figures. You too can sculpt marzipan at home. Add the animal figures to cakes and pastries for a decorative touch.
Mix together 284gr. of almond paste and 5 tbsp of light corn syrup. Add 2 cups of icing sugar to the mixture ¼ cup at a time, yielding a thick, doughy ball.
Turn the dough ball out onto waxed paper. Put on thin plastic gloves to keep your hands clean and make it easier to work the marzipan.
Examine a few animal pictures to decide which animals you want to make. Your pictures should have simple, clean lines and details that clearly show the shape of the animal. These are your references for the different shapes you need to make.
Cut a palm-sized lump of marzipan for your animal sculpture, and drip the appropriate food colouring onto it. For instance, if making a pig, use a little red colouring to get pink. For giraffes, use yellow. Knead and work the marzipan until the colouring is thoroughly mixed into it. Cake decorating shops will often sell colours like black, brown and grey, as well.
Cut 1 piece from the coloured lump for each part of your animal's body. For instance, for a pig, you'll need a quarter-sized lump for the head, a lump for the body about twice that size and small pieces for the ears, legs and tail.
Gently roll and work the marzipan between your palms into basic shapes. For instance, the pig's head would be a sphere. The body should be a large oval. The legs would be cylinders, and the ears would be tiny triangles. Make a little curled snake for the tail.
Hold each piece in your hand. Gently pinch and work a nose from the head piece. Use a toothpick to make eyes, stripes and mouths.
Brush each piece with simple syrup where they need to fit together. Hold the pieces together for several seconds before adding the next piece. Let the marzipan harden fully overnight.
Things you need
- Almond paste
- Light corn syrup
- Icing sugar
- Mixing bowl
- Electric mixer
- Dough hooks
- Waxed paper
- Thin plastic gloves
- Animal pictures
- Food colouring
- Sharp knife
- Simple syrup