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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.
FAQ on Persipan
What is persipan and how is it different from marzipan?
Persipan is a paste similar to marzipan but made primarily from apricot or peach kernels instead of almonds. The kernels give persipan a slightly different taste and a more bitter flavor compared to the sweet, nutty flavor of marzipan. While marzipan is smooth and easily colored or flavored, persipan has a coarser texture and is less malleable, making it less suitable for detailed sculpting but still useful for fillings and baked goods.
Can people with nut allergies safely consume persipan?
Although persipan is made from apricot or peach kernels, which are not nuts, it may still pose a risk for individuals with nut allergies. This is because the proteins in these kernels can be similar to those found in almonds and other tree nuts, potentially triggering an allergic reaction. It's essential for those with nut allergies to consult with a healthcare provider before consuming persipan.
Is persipan vegan and gluten-free?
Persipan is typically vegan as it is made from fruit kernels, sugar, and a binding agent such as starch. However, it's important to check the label for any additional ingredients that may not be vegan. As for being gluten-free, persipan itself does not contain gluten, but it can be processed in facilities that handle gluten-containing products, so those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity should look for a certified gluten-free label.
How is persipan used in cooking and baking?
Persipan is commonly used as a filling in pastries, cakes, and confections. It can be found in traditional European baked goods such as stollen, a German fruit bread, or used as a layer in various tarts and pies. Its ability to withstand high temperatures without melting makes it ideal for baking. Additionally, persipan can be rolled out and used as a covering for cakes, similar to marzipan.
Where can I buy persipan and how should I store it?
Persipan can be purchased at specialty baking stores, online retailers, or in some European markets. It may not be as readily available as marzipan, so it might require a bit of searching. Once acquired, persipan should be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and stored in a cool, dry place. It can also be refrigerated to extend its shelf life, but should be brought to room temperature before use for best results.