Help me devise a recipe for sugar free marzipan
December 14, 2017 12:01 AM   Subscribe

I have ground almonds, almond flour and almond essence. I do not want to use any sweeteners. Any suggestions?

All recipes for almond paste or marzipan seem to have some sort of sweetener included (sugar, sugar substitutes or in one case, dates) so I think it does more than just add to the flavour, I think it probably contributes to the texture too.
I do not want to replace the sweetness - but I do need to bind the almonds together. I am planning to try eggwhite and water in various proportions with the two different almond products. I hope to make small marzipan 'sweets' for my almond loving husband who has give up all sugar and sweeteners for medical reasons.
I am ready for some experimentation - MeFites, what else can I use to bind the almonds together? And can anyone advise on flour vs ground almonds?
posted by Heloise9 to Food & Drink (16 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
You could try using aquafaba.
posted by BusyBusyBusy at 1:05 AM on December 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

Buttermilk? Not a lot, just enough.

Heavy cream? Powdered milk + regular milk to make a paste? Hmmm, I assume dates and other fruit is unacceptable? Otherwise a fruit paste (apple cooked down, dates, figs, etc) might work. Apple pectin cooked produces a thickening effect.

Coconut cream? Avocado oil? Unsweetened butter?

That's a lot of ideas. You can get powdered egg whites, a little of that mixed w/ milk or similar might be sticky enough. Arrowroot powder does this, too.

Good luck!
posted by jbenben at 3:18 AM on December 14, 2017

Unless your husband actually objects to the sweetness, I think I'd be inclined to include just a little something sweet - to bring out the flavour of the almonds as much as anything. The way you include a pinch of salt in bread (have you tried bread without salt, ugh).

What about a small amount of mashed banana? This will have a binding effect (you really mash it, til it's gluey) and just a hint of sweet.

The texture thing - in some marzipan, you can taste/mouthfeel the granules of sugar which can be nice. To mimic this, you could use 90% ground almonds (as in, ready-ground) and 10% blanched almonds which you have chopped in a food processor, or bashed with a pestle and mortar, until they're juuuust a little bit more coarse than the ground almonds.
posted by greenish at 3:25 AM on December 14, 2017

I was thinking some form of mucilage but while it isn't sweet itself it is essentially a polysaccharide. Almonds themselves also have a decent amount of carbohydrates in them so the small amount of a mucilage that you would need wouldn't really be adding much more "sugars" than would be present in the almonds themselves.
posted by koolkat at 3:37 AM on December 14, 2017

I would use this recipe for inspiration -- sub the aquafaba for the maple syrup, and sub the marzipan for some portion of the ground almonds.
posted by OrangeDisk at 5:35 AM on December 14, 2017

Cornstarch is worth a try. Make sure all the ingredients you try are OK to eat without cooking, though. Other starches: arrowroot, rice flour, water cracker ground in a mortar and pestle, ground pretzel.

You could also try freezing the almond paste and letting that provide structure.

It might be nice to experiment with different flavorings, since you're not using sugar: cardamom, cinnamon, basil, pepper, salt, etc.

One other idea, since it's so common in some stores now: matcha green tea (essentially powdered tea).

This sounds like a fascinating experiment / blog post / food magazine article.
posted by amtho at 5:42 AM on December 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

I think I would try butter or coconut oil (fridge temp) and unsweetened shredded coconut. Butter alone will give you a paste and maybe the coconut would provide some of that granular texture and a nice flavor.
posted by bluebird at 6:34 AM on December 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

Oh also, maybe you could just buy unsweetened almond butter and chill it or freeze it and make little truffles out of it, roll them in cocoa powder or something. I think that would be more delicious, and also more almondy-tasting.
posted by bluebird at 6:39 AM on December 14, 2017 [10 favorites]

OOOOOO! I like bluebird's idea -- almond butter mixed with marzipan, chilled, and rolled in the ground almonds. That would be delicious.
posted by OrangeDisk at 7:28 AM on December 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

I think it really depends on why they're giving up sugar. A lot of these replacements contain a ton of sugar/carbs.
posted by Bistyfrass at 12:05 PM on December 14, 2017

I was also going to suggest dates, unless that counts as a “sweetener” in your definition. Please report back on what worked for you!
posted by AnOrigamiLife at 7:42 AM on December 15, 2017

I wonder if cornstarch:water mixture would work as a binder
posted by BooneTheCowboyToy at 8:58 AM on December 15, 2017

I will report back after my weekend experiments - many thanks for fantastic suggestions
posted by Heloise9 at 9:44 AM on December 15, 2017

The sugar is probably there to keep things moist and flexible. Sugar attracts and holds on to water. I think I would go bluebird's route and use something oily instead of sugary. It will come with it's own set of issues and you will probably need to keep it pretty cold as you work with it but I think that any starch binders will end up dry and crumbly and will fall to bits. I have seen meringue-based almond sweets but, again, you need sugar to achieve that meringue, even if you are using aquafaba. You might be able to get a meringue going with Splenda if you are going for low glycemic. Bob's Red Mill makes an almond flour that is a good match for making marzipan. Also, a lot of the flavor of marzipan comes from almond extract, so, make sure you put a dab in there. Almond extract mimics the flavor of bitter almond.

You could really kick it into high gear and start experimenting with gums like guar gum. Again, Bob's Red Mill does sell small bags of food gums/binders.
posted by Foam Pants at 12:41 PM on December 15, 2017

OK - early experiments with both egg white and aquafaba are good. I have tried with both almond flour and ground almonds - I think I will use a mix to get a slightly more interesting mouthfeel (as per greenish's suggestion)
I ended up using lots of almond extract - this also adds oil as the extract is basically almond oil and rapeseed oil.
The texture and structural integrity is great - however the flavour is dull. I am thinking I may need some elements of sweetness in there after all - this will be the next set of experiments!
posted by Heloise9 at 7:17 AM on December 16, 2017

I am sad to have to report that ultra-low sugar almond paste is not really very nice. My final recipe was 50% almond flour and 50% ground almonds, with a very small amount of castor sugar, almond essence, vanilla essence and bound together with aquafaba.
I coloured it and made 'marzipan fruits' but neither of us really liked them.
Following best practice in research science, I am reporting the negative findings.
I am very grateful, however for the introduction to aquafaba: and hopefully there are some other ideas here using fruit and dates that might prove inspiration for other people's culinary adventures.
posted by Heloise9 at 9:27 AM on December 23, 2017

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