Made primarily from sugar and ground apricot or peach cores, persipan is a substitute for the dessert filling marzipan. The term itself is a hybrid of the scientific name for the peach, Prunus persica, and "marzipan." The filling is created in the same way marzipan is made, but since it uses peach cores instead of almonds, it is considerably cheaper than marzipan.
Like marzipan, persipan is made worldwide but is most popular in Europe. Whereas marzipan is created by grinding almonds and mixing them with sugar, persipan is created by grinding peach or apricot pits, often called kernels, and adding those to sugar. This combination creates a paste from which the filling is created, generally by adding more sugar. The paste will contain about 35 percent sugar. The filling, however, will have closer to 60 percent sugar.
Unlike marzipan, persipan often contains 0.5 percent starch. Since the fillings closely resemble each other, the starch is often a required addition so persipan can be easily distinguished visually from marzipan using an iodine test. When iodine solution comes in contact with starch, it dyes the starch dark purple.
Both peach and apricot kernels are poisonous in their raw state. They contain amygdalin, which, when broken down, becomes hydrogen cyanide. These kernels are never safe to eat raw and must be processed before they are used in order to remove the toxin. The toxin is also the reason these fruit cores are not often used in food production and are, therefore, less costly.
Persipan is generally considered of lower quality than marzipan. There is also a difference in taste which some people prefer over marzipan. Additionally, persipan often contains more sugar than its more expensive counterpart in order to combat the bitter taste of the fruit kernels.
Although persipan can be used as a substitute for marzipan in any type of dish, commercially, cake fillings and cookies are the most common desserts that use the substitute. Marzipan is also frequently found in candies, but persipan is rarely used commercially for candy treats. The paste, however, can be purchased online or in some European stores for use in homemade desserts.
Since they are often an ingredient in holiday treats, both fillings are most frequently found around Christmas. In Germany, however, both can be found year-round. In the United States, these fillings are far less popular. Though marzipan can be found commercially in the US, generally around the holiday season, most Americans are not familiar with persipan at all.