Almond Paste, Marzipan, Frangipane: What's the Difference?
Almond paste is a baking ingredient that you can buy ready-made or make yourself from scratch.
Commercially produced almond paste contains around 45% almonds and 16 grams sugar per 2 tablespoons.
Homemade almond paste can be made with or without egg white. Whether you use raw blanched almonds, blanched toasted almonds, or almonds with their skins depends on what you're using the almond paste for.
Related: How to Make Almond Paste
Whereas almond paste is strictly used as a baking ingredient, marzipan is ready to eat and as such considered a candy or confection. You can buy it off the supermarket shelf or make your own.
Commercially produced marzipan contains around 28% almonds and 21 grams sugar per 2 tablespoons so it's sweeter than almond paste.
Because marzipan is stiff, it lends itself to be cut out or shaped three-dimensionally for candies shaped like fruits, or for cake and pastry decorations. Unlike almond paste, marzipan is often dyed.
Related: How to Make Marzipan
Can Marzipan and Almond Paste Be Used Interchangeably?
It can be confusing that recipes sometimes use the terms "almond paste" and "marzipan" interchangeably, as they're actually quite different. Almond paste has a coarser texture but is much softer than marzipan, which allows it to be spread as a filling. Unlike marzipan, almond paste holds up in baking.
The sugar content of almond paste is lower and its almond content higher than marzipan. That is because the cookies, cakes, tarts, and other desserts to which almond paste is added call for additional sugar.
You can use store-bought almond paste to make marzipan but you cannot make almond paste from marzipan.
In a pinch, you can substitute marzipan for almond paste, but be sure to reduce the amount of sugar called for in the recipe because marzipan is sweeter than almond paste. Note that the end result will also be different because marzipan is firmer and has a finer texture than almond paste.
And What About Frangipane?
Frangipane is a pastry or pie filling. Unlike almond paste and marzipan, it is not a product that you can buy off the supermarket shelf, so you need to make it yourself.
Another difference between frangipane and almond paste and marzipan is the ingredients. In addition to almonds and sugar, frangipane contains eggs, butter, and flour. French-style frangipane also requires milk to prepare a custard, which is then mixed with ground almonds.
Frangipane has a very soft consistency. While you can make a batch of marzipan or almond paste ahead of time and keep it in the fridge or freeze it, frangipane is best prepared just before using.
Like almond paste, frangipane can be adapted to a vegan diet.
Related: How to Make Frangipane
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