Marzipan is a traditional Christmas dessert whose main ingredients are almonds and sugar. In Toledo we can find marzipan all year round despite the widespread tradition in the rest of Spain of eating it at Christmas. The link with Christmas dates back to the time of the reign of Philip II, who decided to distribute sweets to the less fortunate during the holidays. Traditional presentations of marzipan are the filling, the figuritas, the marquesas, the empiñonadas and the pastel gloria.
The most probable origin of the term marzipan is in the Arabic spoken in al-Andalus, during the period of coexistence that took place in the centre and south of the peninsula during the Middle Ages. Its production was maintained in the city of Toledo both in convents and in establishments; with great prestige and international fame. Below we tell you how to prepare figuritas de mazapán so that your platters of Christmas sweets are not missing.
Ingredients for the figuritas de mazapán:
- 100 ml of water
- 200 g of sugar
- 200 g of ground almonds
- 1 egg yolk
- Bitter almond essence
- Pour the water and sugar into a saucepan. Put it on a medium heat to boil for about 4-5 minutes, so that the sugar melts and the resulting syrup is clear. If you want, you can also add a few drops of bitter almond essence.
- Then add the ground almond and stir constantly until a thick dough forms. Cook it well until it comes off the walls of the pan; pour it into a bowl and let it cool. Put it in the fridge for 1 hour to knead it better.
- After an hour, the dough for your figuritas de mazapán will look thick and slightly sandy. In order to knead it well, take small pieces of the dough, wetting your hands with water each time, and forming the figuritas. You can give them the shape you like best. For example, with a knife you can make three marks on each marzipan figure.
- When you have all the figuritas de mazapán ready, paint them only on the top with a brush soaked in beaten egg yolk.
- With the oven preheated to 210ºC, place your figuritas de mazapán on the grill attached to the top of the oven. They only need a couple of minutes; so take them out as soon as you see that they are toasted on top. Let them cool down and it is time to enjoy this traditional sweet.