This article is about the food marzipan; for the Homestar Runner character of this name, see: Marzipan (character).
Marzipan is confectionery consisting primarily of ground almonds and sugar that derives its characteristic flavor from bitter almonds, which constitute 4% to 6% of total almond content by weight. Most marzipan is also flavored with rosewater.
Believed to have originated in Persia (present-day Iran), marzipan became a specialty of the Baltic region of Germany during the 8th century. In particular, the city of Lübeck has a proud tradition of marzipan manufacture. The city's manufacturers still guarantee their Marzipan to contain two thirds almonds by weight, which results in a juicy, bright yellow product.
Under EU law, marzipan must have a minimum almond oil content of 14% and a maximum moisture content of 8.5%. Optional additional ingredients are rosewater, honey, pistachios and preservatives. In the US, marzipan must include at least a quarter almonds by weight, otherwise it is considered to be almond paste .
It is often made into sweets, often small imitations of fruits and vegetables, or rolled into thin sheets and glazed for icing cakes and is traditionally used in wedding cakes, Christmas cakes , and stollen. In some countries marzipan shaped into small figures of animals, such as pigs, is a traditional treat for New Year's Day.
Marzipan is also used in Tortell, and sometimes in some versions king cake, eaten during the Carnival season.
In Italy, Marzipan is often shaped and painted with food colorings to resemble fruit, especially during the Christmas season.
The German name has completely ousted the former English name marchpane with the same derivation: "March bread."