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Shared by Stella Hanan Cohen

Masapan (Marzipan)

Yield: 50 piecesTime: 1 h

Masapan (Marzipan)

Yield: 50 piecesTime: 1 h

Family Journey

SpainRhodes, GreeceMarmarise, Turkey
Élisabethville, Belgian Congo (present-day Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of the CongoSalisbury, Rhodesia (present-day Harare, Zimbabwe)

“We acquired the centuries old skill from the nuns of the convents of Toledo, handcrafting freshly ground almonds with sugar syrup into orange blossom scented ‘masapan,’” Stella explains. It’s an essential part of wedding celebrations in her community. 

Read more about Stella's family in "These Medieval Spanish Recipes Live on in Zimbabwe" and try her recipes for Pan d’Espanya (Orange Sponge Cake), Menenas (Shortbread Filled With Dates and Walnuts), and Boulukunio (Almond and Sesame Brittle).


  • 1 pound blanched whole almonds
  • 2 cups hot water
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

For shaping:

  • 1 cup water 
  • 1 teaspoon orange blossom water 

For decorating:

DessertsPurimVegetarianVeganPareveWestern Europe


  • Step 1

    Working in 3 batches, grind the almonds in a food processor until very finely ground and sandy in texture; use the pulse setting to ensure that the almonds don't turn into an oily paste. You should end up with about 4 cups ground nuts.

  • Step 2

    Put the hot water and sugar in a large heavy-bottomed stainless steel saucepan and stir, off heat, until the sugar is completely dissolved. Then bring the syrup to a boil over high heat, without stirring (to prevent crystallization). Boil the syrup until it reaches 235°F, the soft-ball stage, about 30 minutes. If you don't have a thermometer, carefully take a small spoonful of the syrup and drop it into a glass of cold water. Let it cool for a few seconds, then feel the sugar; it should form a soft, pliable ball. If it doesn't quite hold together, cook for another minute or so and retest.

  • Step 3

    Remove the pan from the heat, add the ground almonds and lemon juice, and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon or stiff silicone spatula. Return the pan to low heat and, stirring constantly to avoid sticking or scorching, cook until the paste comes away from the sides of the pan, 2 to 3 minutes.

  • Step 4

    To test whether the marzipan is ready, roll a small amount of it--the size of a small marble--between your palms (be careful, the marzipan is hot). If it stays in a ball and does not stick to your hands, it's ready; remove the pan from the heat.

  • Step 5

    Transfer the marzipan to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium speed until the marzipan is homogenous and increases in volume a bit, about 2 minutes, adding ½ teaspoon water at a time if needed to bring the mixture together.

  • Step 6

    Shape and decorate the marzipan: Put the water in a small bowl and add the orange blossom water. Dampen your hands with the scented water, scoop out a portion of marzipan, and roll it into a rope 1 inch thick; the length of the rope doesn't matter. With a sharp knife, cut the rope into 1 ½-inch diagonal pieces, measured from point to point. Repeat with the rest of the marzipan mixture.

  • Step 7

    Press a silver ball into the center of each piece of marzipan and arrange on a pretty serving plate.