Since living in Germany I’ve learned more than a handful of new German words. I arrived knowing “gesundheit” and “kindergarten” but something else I’ve added to my lexicon: marzipan.
Marzipan isn’t completely a foreign thing to Americans, but it’s not something I was very familiar with until I visited Lübeck, Germany back in December. The city of Lübeck is actually listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but I was in town (courtesy of German Sweets) to visit the Niederegger chocolate factory. Niederegger is famous for making marzipan-filled chocolate candies. I was lucky enough to have a private tour of the Niederegger factory where they produce the almond paste.
But what exactly is marzipan?
Besides being a tasty filling for chocolate candy, Marzipan is a creamy mixture of almonds and sugar made into a very sweet paste. If you’re looking for Niederegger’s family recipe for Marzipan, no luck here. They keep that under some serious wraps. But the most they would tell me is their secret ingredient is similar to rosewater. Marzipan’s secret, however, lies in the almonds.
Niederegger’s marzipan is widely regarded as one of the best. Marzipan is pretty damn sweet, so if that’s your thing, it’s definitely for you. As an almond aficionado, marzipan is right up my alley. And, really, Niederegger’s marzipan was delicious. And that’s not just because I got to try some straight off the factory line…
The marzipan that Niederegger produces each year (over 300 chocolate-coated marzipan varieties!) ranges from heart-shaped sweets to pig-shaped candies. They even make specialty marzipan cakes! Or, if you’re a total marzipan nut, they’ve got life-size figures. No joke. (Though I don’t think they were for sale….but I’m sure they’d make one for you with their made-to-order business.)
Where does marzipan come from?
Niederegger has a nice story to tell about marzipan almond paste originating from Lübeck in the 15th century during a famine, but the sweet confection actually originates in the Orient. Marzipan was introduced to Germany and Europe by the Crusaders and was even used as a medicine up through the 18th century.
Marzipan was a luxury during most of its history thanks to the high price of sugar. However, with the discovery of sugar production through beets (read about my visit to Berlin’s sugar museum documenting this important historical discovery), sugar finally became affordable in Germany toward the end of the 19th century. And from then on, marzipan caught on as a sweet and tasty dessert.
More info about Niederegger marzipan
Niederegger has been making marzipan since 1806. That’s a whole lotta marzipan. They use Mediterranean almonds and have served Russian tsars and Viennese courts. Their Marzipan has been made into everything from liqueurs to cakes.
If you’re looking for some chocolate for Easter, try some marzipan! Niederegger can be found for sale in the States so keep your eyes open—and your belly empty. Be prepared for a sweetness explosion!
Are you a marzipan fanatic??? How sweet do you like your candy?
My trip to the Niederegger chocolate marzipan factory was in partnership with German Sweets.
I had marzipan for the first time this week, in the form of a Ritter Sport marzipan bar. Yum.
But seriously, send me the kindereggs.
Ritter Sport is pretty excellent! I also visited their factory in December…. I think Ritter probably has the greatest chocolate variety ever. Seriously, they’ve got every flavor imaginable!
I always wondered what Marzipan was. I have always thought it as savory. Good to know!
Hah! Not even close to savory. I think it’s usually like 70% sugar. SEVENTY!
OMG. I looooove Marzipan. But can’t eat a lot of it… it’s too sweet. But yummy.
It’s really sweet for me, too… but nice every once in a while :)
“i fell in love with a man made out of marzipan”, sounds like a great fantasy novel. twilight mets the gingerbread man. random, i know but blame the cold meds
It’s very popular here in Norway as well. For Christmas, it’s marzipan pigs and now for Easter, marzipan eggs. After the holidays, there’s half-price marzipan in every shop… a nightmare for the waistline :)
Hmm, I didn’t realize that the shape of the marzipan varied depending upon the holiday! Eggs for Easter makes sense, though. I’m pretty sure marzipan is most popular in Scandinavian countries. Not sure why that is…any idea?
Thanks for commenting Sophie.
I used to like Marzipan better than I do now. It isn’t too sweet for me, but the texture is not one I particularly like now. I kind of like the sickly sweet melty texture whereas marzipan is too firm almost. I will eat it and enjoy it, but choose other things.
It is kind of neat to see that stuff like chocolate and now marzipan, that we associate so strongly with Germany didn’t even come from here. I’m not even sure you CAN grow chocolate here.
I do like all the figures and shapes and painted edibles you can make with the stuff. I remember seeing a little piggy in it.
The texture is definitely a bit strange. I think pigs are a popular shape for marzipan. I guess quite a lot of people enjoy making shapes and cakes out of the marzipan.
Still too sweet for me, but when covered in chocolate and in small doses, I like it!
[…] Adam talks about his visit to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp memorial and teaches us about marzipan. […]
I just can’t really jump on the marzipan bandwagon. I may eat a piece every few years, but that’s plenty. And we seem to get it as gifts from people all the time. I don’t even know what to do with the stuff anymore. There needs to be a marzipan donation hotline or something.
But those marzipan statues — totally insane. That is truly incredible. Do they keep the room really chilly? :)
Hahaha, I can understand getting sick of marzipan. I can only eat it in small doses but I think many people may just eat chunk after chunk of it. Too much!
And yeah, those statues were ridiculous! Kind of neat that marzipan can be formed into almost anything. Reminded me of play-doh—but one that you could actually eat!
I loooove marzipan! My favorite is the dark Ritter Sport version. So good!
I don’t think I’ve found a Ritter Sport bar I didn’t like :)
[…] to sample a cookie right off the conveyor belt (tasted just like one right out of an oven) and eat marzipan at each level of production—from when it’s just unsweetened almonds to the 100% pure almond […]