“Do you want to make a mouse or an elephant?” our demonstrator asked us as we sat down in the cafe of Niederegger Lubeck, the center of the company’s marzipan production.
I was on a small-group tour of Northern Germany, and Lubeck was our second stop. When I looked at the itinerary and saw that we would be visiting the headquarters of the world’s preeminent marzipan production company, I knew that we were in for a treat. I was even more excited when I learned we would be making our own marzipan animal figurines.
Megan created this marzipan mouse while touring Niederegger Lubeck, a cafe known for producing the sweet paste. // © 2014 Megan Brickwood
Personally, I was in favor of creating an elephant, but I was in the minority — which turned out to be a good thing. As a Niederegger employee masterfully showed us how to mold the marzipan into a cute little mouse, I realized that the much more ambitious elephant model would have been far beyond my expertise. (It didn’t help that I kept sampling the product before it was finished.)
While marzipan was not invented in Lubeck, it does hold the record for the largest marzipan production in the world — about 30 tons per day. Lubeck’s status as the capital of marzipan originated in 1806, when the company’s founder, Johann Georg Niederegger, established a confectioner business there. Over the years, he became the leading confectioner of Lubeck and his recipe for marzipan became famous. His recipe is distinct from other varieties of marzipan in that it has less sugar, a greater percentage of almonds and, of course, a secret ingredient.
In the end, my marzipan mouse ended up looking more like a googly-eyed rabbit with a strange tail, but I found the experience to be no less fun (or delicious). We were rewarded with one of Niederegger’s special confections — a slice of hazelnut marzipan cake and a hot cup of coffee — plus we were given special bags to take home our creations and a certificate to celebrate our accomplishment.