Traditionally marzipan is made from 2 main ingredients : almonds & sugar, lots of sugar, actually so much sugar that marzipan lovers are often fat lovers - however if we change the sugar for dates then marzipan changes from an obesity snack to a healthy nutritiounal dense no-guilt super food - a very healthy snack indeed.
Does date based marzipan taste as good as traditional sugar based marzipan ? the answer is that date based marzipan tastes closely the same as traditional marzipan, however date based marzipan does have 2 major downsides :
Traditional marzipan taste fantastic then baked, date based marzipan does not.
Traditional marzipan is easy to color and mold, date based marzipan is not (if you are into making beautiful marzipan models, date based marzipan is not your friend).
BONUS downside : Traditional marzipan integrate with the filling taste reaching heaven after about a week in the fridge, I have not been able to get that taste integration going on with date based marzipan (I am hard at work trying to delete this statement).
I like lists & tabular data, so let me give you a table presentation of how date based marzipan compares to traditional marzipan :
Very good and after a week fantastic
Not good at all
Even more expensive
* The calorie count gives a false picture of what is going on. While almonds are more calorie dense than sugar and therefore distort the calorie count, partly 10-15% of calories in almonds are bound to fats that are not edible and partly almonds have other properties that have the opposite effect on blood sugar, insulin and diabetics than the high calorie count suggest. The actual difference in effect of changing sugar with dates are likely far higher than the relative difference in calorie count.
Baked marzipan is my all time favourite and it was quite disappointing to find out that date based marzipan does not render itself to baking at all. However, the health benefits of date based marzipan is simply so good that it is better to eat it than not and on top of that it is something you can eat instead of unhealthy marzipan - it is impossible not admire date based marzipan.
250g almond flour
10 pitted medjoul dates (240g)
3 tsp of almond extract
1 tsp of rose water (or 2 tsp of vanilla extract)
Coating, fillings & decoration
100g 70% high quality chocolate
Very little jam (rasperry, or )
Create the marzipan
Unpit the dates and smash them into a sticky paste using a blender.
Mix the almond flour with the date paste using your hands.
Add taste additives (almond extract and rose water).
Continue mixing with your hands.
Wrap the mixture using film and roll it on the table while wrapped
Put the wrapped marzipan on something sturday and set in refrigerator over night.
Fill the marzipan (next day) There are many many options for marzipan filling, here I will explore a few.
Cut the marcipan into appropriate sized pieces. 12 pieces makes for a nice 50g per piece (makes it easy to count calories if you are into that).
Walnuts are healthy and go great with marzipan both as filling and as decoration. Crush some walnuts (I like them about 4 mm) and roll the crushed walnuts into some of the marzipan pieces.
Cherry & rasperry jam is not healthy but just a little goes a long way. Make some balls out of the walnut infused marcipan and cut the balls in halfs making a hole in the middle and fill in a little jam.
Liqourice is an interesting filling not the tasties but different. Take plenty of liqourice powder and infuse some marzipan pieces and form them into cubes.
Dry cranberries adds a sticky sourness. Mash the cranberries (I use a knife to cut them very small) and infuse the rest of the marzipan pieces together with a little jam and make them into flat circles.
Coat the marzipan
Melt 100g 70% coating chocolate either in the microwave or if you are an old feinsmecker then in a double boiler, stop before the chocolate is fully melted and use a fork to stir the chocolate into full melt (the reason is that we want the chocolate to be less warm which creates a crispier and thicker coat even if for health reasons we would like a thin coat, see health considerations below).
Prepare a plate or cutting board wrapped with tinfoil to put the chocolate coated marzipan pieces on.
Dip the marzipan pieces in the melted chocolate. The balls are the easiest - use a spoon with melted chocolate and roll the balls in the spoon. Place the wet chocolate coated marzipan pieces on the tinfoil plate or cutting board.
Then all the marzipan pieces have been chocolate coated, put the tinfoil plate or cutting board in the fridge.
Wait at least one day before eating, however they are even better after one week.
Let's see how healthy date based marzipan actually is :
Nutritional value per 100g (fillings are not counted, however the walnut filling is very healthy)
*Note that 10-15% of the calories coming from the almonds are in fat types that are not edible
Despite the dense health properties we should probably not eat a full 100g of date based marzipan every day even if the content is actually within recommendations. The 2 reasons are that the calorie count is on the high side and that we can get bored with the same candy, which would be a shame in this case. But if you eat say 50g (about 1 piece) you will get a good nutritional boost.
Health benefits of date based marzipan
It's unbelievably that such a treat can be so healthy
Among the best sources of E-vitamin, which is linked to lower rates of heart disease, cancer and Alzheimers.
Low in carbs, but high in healthy fats, protein and fiber makes almonds a good choice for people with diabetes and helps us to feel more full.
High amount of magnesium, which controls a host of bodily processes among others blood sugar and insulin function. Many people do not get enough magnesium.
Reduces LDL (bad cholesterol) and protects LDL from oxidation thereby having double positive effect on reducing heart related diseases (the polyphenol in especially almond skin that have this effect on LDL may work even better together with E-vitamin).
phytic acid in almonds are generally considered a healthy antioxidant, however it will also bind to minerals such as iron, zinc and calcium preventing them from being absorbed and therefore at least to some extent reduce the amount we get of these minerals from the marzipan.
if instead of almond flour we are using almond ground (which includes the brown skin), there are benefits from high concentrations of antioxidants, however the almond skin is also known to contain tannin, which like phytic acid binds to minerals preventing their absorbtion (at least to some extent).
sdf Chocolate is likely less healthy than many people have come to believe from reading various blogs about chocolate health benefits. Even 70% chocolate contains lots of sugar and health benefits are speculative more than researched. Therefore then coating marzipan be sure that the chocolate is at least 70% high quality (expensive) and that the layer is thin.