By the time of Regency England, marchpane was
an accepted product made into a variety of sweets for festive occasions such
as Christmas. Marzipan items have always been thought of as
special occasion foods for feasts and weddings, as sugar and nuts were once
expensive as both were imported into Britain. The Victorians
loved these marzipan sweetmeats and in high society they would be
displayed on attractive 3 or 4-tiered stands. These recipes are
fun to make and are easy to do because the marzipan moulds really well
into shapes that are curved. Children will love making
these just as Victorian children would have liked joining in making
and decorating them too.
There is a huge renewed interest in marzipan
fruits and products made using marzipan, with items such as Stollen being a
fashionable addition to the Christmas table at teatime or in the days after
Xmas. We used to make the marzipan fruits described here with the
leftover trimmings from the almond paste for the Christmas cake, but the purchase of
a pound of
commercial quality marzipan will keep children amused for an hour on a rainy day and be as much
fun for them as working with clay or bread dough and edible too!!
Unlike in my childhood, today you can use the
convenient food colouring powders that are less mucky to work with than
liquid food colours and far more
subtle in effect than liquid colours. You would need a very basic set of 5
Food Powder Colours which can each be bought separately. For this I
suggest lemon yellow, a deep pink like cherry red, green, white and blue and you should be able
to mix them to make other colours and pastels if you want to keep the budget
Marzipan fruits are easy to make. They can be made
with bought or homemade pale almond paste. Later they can be
coloured with food dusting powders or painted by using wet food colours or
by initially working colour into the paste. The most realistic effects
will be achieved with the pure food powders. The food powder is
applied and then passed over steam to set it. It's very easy to do and
Children would need
close supervision if using steam to set the food powders. One way
would be to put some of the marzipan fruits into a sieve and hold them
safely at arm's length in light steam of a kettle or saucepan of water.
Another way would be to insert a skewer or cocktail stick and again at arm's
length hold the fruit in the steam for about 10 seconds rotating it as you
Shapes that are circular or oval make great marzipan fruits,
but others like bananas are also easy to achieve, although are better if a
bit larger than I have made here. Choose from
peaches, apples, oranges, cherries, blueberries, lemons, strawberries,
plums, greengages and apricots. Carrots and grapes are also possible.
Use the size of your foil paper case as a guide for the
finished product and divide a half pound pack of marzipan into 4 pieces.
Take out one quarter and work with that leaving the rest in the sealed up
bag until you require to work it. Now break up the marzipan with a
knife into cubes. Shape as follows. About one
pound of marzipan will make this number of fruits. A shop I visited
sold just 6 in a box for £3.
Here is picture of the shaped pieces I worked before colour
has been added.
Marzipan Apples, Pears and Peaches
Shape small equal sized pieces of marzipan into a pear
from a cone shape and indent the base of it so it has a roundness. In
the pear base, insert a clove to suggest a blossom. Make a hole
with another clove at the top, but use the hole to add a small piece of
green angelica or the point of a clove stick.
You can do this at the very end after colouring as long as the indent is in
Paint a blush of pink on the pear, peaches and apples or for the best effect use food powders. Touch with green and lemon yellow on the pear and apple and also speckle
the pear with brown food powder which you can make by mixing a little yellow, red and blue together with more red in it.
For the apple add a dusting of russet or red mixed with
yellow and also some pink pearl lustre, or red mixed with white.
and colours similar to those used on the pear are suitable for the apples. For the peach, mix yellow and red powders to get a
golden hue and brush all over the peach. Then add a blush of pink.
Dust the peach over with a little icing sugar or pearlescent white powder for extra bloom.
Marzipan Apricots, Plums and Greengages
Take some balls of marzipan and shape into egg like plum
shapes. Dent the side with the blunt side of a knife or a
similar utensil. Try a few utensils to get the effect of indentation
which is soft, but a noticeable mark running down the side of these fruits.
Colour with the correct colour using food dusting powders or food paints.
Create brown speckles on the apricots and greengages by
flicking some damp brown colour onto them from a clean toothbrush or similar
Or spot with a spice brown food colour pen.
Shape small pieces into softly rounded cones then mould into strawberry
shapes. Prick all over with a skewer or a clean bodkin needle. Colour with powders or use cochineal and paint it delicately red. Dab some green powder on the hull area. If liked roll in caster sugar for a frosted effect. If liked, make
hulls of green marzipan or angelica and place on the thick end of each
strawberry, before inserting very tiny angelica stalks. The pips
can be emphasised by pressing a spice brown pen over the coloured strawberry
after first dusting with red food powders.
Marzipan Cherries Blueberries
Shape small balls into cherries or blueberries. Hold each
on a skewer and paint or dust, red or darkest blue black.
add a bloom of white pearlescent powder to the blueberries.
Insert stalks of angelica into the cherries, or leave as
is. Make angelica leaves if liked.
Shape rolls of marzipan into bananas tapering one end. Colour or dust yellow and add brown speckles
and a browned stalk end. Use a spice brown pen side ways and rub it
against the sides of each banana.
Shape into very rounded balls and insert a clove. Mark all over with a
needle. Colour orange and add a hint of green at the stalk stump.
Marzipan lemons are just made into a lemon shape and pressed against a tea
strainer. Colour lemon yellow, spot with spice
brown and add a hint of green at one end.
Make bunches of grapes by rolling lots of tiny balls of marzipan arranging
them into a bunch which is fat at the top and narrows toward the bottom.
Make sure every ball touches another so it will stick together as a mass. Dust
or colour with wine red and aubergine or green mixed with white and a dab of
Drying the Fruits
Allow all fruits to dry on greaseproof paper for 8 to 24 hours on an open
tray and covered at the top with more greaseproof paper, but with some
air getting at the fruits. Don't leave them too long as a little
tackiness to the marzipan makes the dry powders stick more easily, yet they
are more likely to lose shape with handling. With experience you will
be able to judge which is best for you.
Setting the Food Powders with Steam
When ready to set the food powders
boil a kettle and let an adult do this. Next put on leather or rubber gloves and hold the
rack in the steam for a brief moment whilst the powders are set by the
steam. You could use a saucepan of boiling water instead of a kettle
and just briefly place the rack on top for 10 seconds or so. This is for seconds only and sheen will appear on the fruits.
You can also use a skewer or a sieve or cocktail sticks to help rotate the
fruits. You will see the difference as a sheen appears.
I have found that the rack over a saucepan is the best method
for me. Cherries are best done though singly on cocktail sticks.
Avoid touching the steamed fruits until dry as the steamed powders will
have turned into wet food paint and will come off on your fingers, or leave
marks on the fruits.
fruits can also be used to decorate a Xmas cake. The easiest way to do
this is to cover your cake with marzipan and if liked then cover with plain
commercial fondant. At the same time cover a fine thin cake board with
a layer of the same fondant icing and let it dry firm for 24 hours, but
better when up to 3 days. Make some extra holly leaves and berries or
ivy leaves using a cutter and wires if available. Firm up and then
colour shades of green and add red berries. Make a wreath of the holly
leaves and place on the covered cake board. Next let the marzipan
fruits nestle in the holly leaves. Place the wreath decorated board on
the firmed ready iced cake.
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