When you see the word frangipane in the name of a pastry, you might imagine it’s very elegant or involves a super-fancy technique. Frangipane sounds exotic, like the perfume for gloves invented by an Italian marquis in the 16th century, or the tropical flower frangipani whose name is often attributed. In fact, it just might be one of the most uncomplicated and useful recipes in a baker’s repertoire, and it’s easily learned; consider it a crash course in rustic French baking. So, what exactly is it?
In essence, frangipane is an almond filling, sometimes called frangipane cream. It isn’t the same as marzipan, which is an almond-sugar paste that’s so dense it can be formed into decorative shapes and painted in bright colors. Frangipane is a mixture of butter, eggs, ground almonds, sugar, and usually a small amount of flour.
It’s hardly a delicate procedure; making this filling is more like making a simple cookie batter. Traditionally, the butter is creamed with sugar until fluffy before mixing in the remaining ingredients, and if you start with soft butter, it’s a cinch. In this guide, we will tell you all there is to know about frangipane.
For pairing with stone fruits such as apricots, plums, and cherries, almond or pistachio, frangipane is the classic choice. The recipe can be adapted to use hazelnuts, pecans, or even sesame paste. You can add a liqueur for flavor, too. These options are especially good when autumn fruits such as pears are involved.
Frangipane is also used as a filling for delicate pastries and is the main component of galette des rois or king’s cake and Pithiviers, another spectacular traditional French dessert; two discs of puff pastry are filled with frangipane and scored decoratively on the top so it looks like a flower.
A good use of this tasty filling in the home kitchen is Bostock, in which it’s spread on top of a syrupy French toast and sprinkled with sliced almonds before baking, forming a delicious, caramelized top. It can sit at room temperature and is a great dish for an indulgent weekend breakfast.
Now that you know all about this adaptable, simple recipe, it’s a good one to keep in your back pocket.
And, bearing in mind that once a batch is made, it can be kept in the refrigerator for up to a week, you can be sure you’re ready for any sweet situation.
Unlike marzipan and almond paste, frangipane is not widely available ready-made and off the supermarket shelf. This means that you have to make it yourself from scratch. But no worries, you don’t need to be a trained pastry chef to make this almond filling.
Types of Frangipane
There are different versions of frangipane. The classic French version is based on crème pâtissière, a thick, custard-like pastry cream made with eggs, milk, butter, flour, and sugar, which is then mixed with ground almonds. For a quick and easy no-cook version, you can simply whip it up using butter, sugar, eggs, and flour. There is also the option to make frangipane vegan without eggs or dairy.
Can You Make Frangipane With Almond Paste?
Making frangipane using almond paste instead of ground almonds is not recommended. Recipes calling for this tasty ingredient require a specific balance between almonds, sugar, egg, and flour. Because almond paste already contains almonds and sugar, it will be difficult to create the same end result. It is much easier — and more economical due to the price of almond paste — to make frangipane from scratch.
History of Frangipane
There is several theories about how and when frangipane was invented. Most sources attribute the idea to the Roman nobleman named Marquis Muzio Frangipani, whose family served as perfumers to King Louis XIII of France, who reigned from 1610 to 1643.
All the fashion worn by nobility at the time was heavily scented, and gloves in particular. Frangipane introduced leather gloves that were intensely perfumed with bitter almond. These gloves à la Frangipani were such a hit that they later inspired French pastry chefs to incorporate the scent into the pastry cream. The recipe first appeared in a cookbook between 1674 and 1756 depending on the source you want to trust.
How to Use Frangipane
Frangipane is used in several European pastries, especially as a filling for tarts.
In French baking, it is used for the Epiphany cake called Galette des rois. It is traditionally baked on January 6 and contains a dried fava bean, which makes the person who finds the bean the king or queen. Note that some recipes use almond paste instead of ground almonds for the frangipane filling. It is also used to fill Pithiviers, a similar pie made of puff pastry with a distinct spiral or flower pattern.
A popular British specialty with frangipane is Bakewell tart, which is a variation of Bakewell pudding that originated in the town of Bakewell in Derbyshire, England.
Not attributable to a particular cuisine is Pear Frangipane Tart, which in the Italian variation becomes Pear and Frangipane Crostata.
Any good baker’s repertoire has Frangipane as a key part. Its velvety almond cream texture is magnificent, especially with an extra hint of vanilla. Frangipane, when served on its own, pairs well with fresh fruits such as strawberries, bananas, pears, etc. Since it uses raw eggs, and flour that requires a little heat to be fully cooked, it’s always best to bake it as a filling in pastries and tarts to eliminate any risks of food poisoning.
You can prepare homemade frangipane with a food processor, stand mixer, or by hand. Whatever the method is, the basic principle is to mix all the ingredients (eggs, sugar, almond meal, flour, milk, vanilla) in measured amounts to get the perfect consistency.
Some classic desserts that use frangipane filling are none other than the French Galette des Rois, conversation tart, Jésuite, pithivier, and the much popular British Bakewell tart. Besides these typical sweet dishes, you can try adding frangipane in between the layers of any of your favorite cakes.
How to Store Frangipane
Frangipane made with raw egg must be refrigerated and used as soon as possible, within the same day. Vegan frangipane, however, can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator for up to one week or frozen for up to six months.
The Difference Between Frangipane and Marzipan
Frangipane and marzipan are made with similar ingredients, but they’re actually quite different. Frangipane is most often used as a cream filling and needs to be baked before it can be consumed. Marzipan, on the other hand, is considered a confection on its own and can be used to make fondant or cake decorations. When it comes to the texture, marzipan is much denser, less spreadable, and more pliable.
The two are also made differently. If you already know how to make an almond paste—almond flour, powdered sugar, and egg whites—marzipan follows a similar process but with fewer almonds and more sugar. Frangipane, on the other hand, also contains egg yolks, butter, flour, and sometimes a bit of milk.
Desserts That Use Frangipane
Frangipane makes a wonderful addition to any dessert, but here are some classic recipe favorites:
Apricot Frangipane Tart
This tart pairs particularly well with caramelized apricots or apricot jam in this delicious, buttery treat.
Pear Frangipane Tartlets
These mini tarts are filled with frangipane, poached pears, and a hint of lemon, creating a classic French pastry.
This traditional English dessert is made with layers of jam, frangipane, and flakes of almonds.
Galette Des Rois
Also known as “King’s cake,” this dessert features frangipane sandwiched between layers of puff pastry and is at the heart of many cultural traditions across Europe.
Cherry Frangipane Galette
This free-form pie is both delicious and easy to make because it doesn’t require any special equipment.
This is a French enclosed puff pastry pie with frangipane filling, characterized by the beautiful spiral lines that decorate the top layer.
This is a quick treat anyone can make—all it takes is a slice of sweet bread, a thin layer of jam, and a layer of frangipane. You can sprinkle some slivered almonds on top, too, if you’re feeling fancy!
The only thing better than a soft buttery croissant is one filled with delicious sweet frangipane.
How to Make Frangipane: A Recipe
The name “frangipane” makes it sound like you need to spend hours in the kitchen wrestling with complicated ingredients. In truth, it could not be more simple to make! Here’s a quick and easy recipe you can follow.
Total time: 15 minutes
Yield: About 2 cups
- ½ cup butter (room temperature)
- ½ cup white sugar
- 2 eggs (room temperature)
- 1 cup almond flour (see substitutions)
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour (optional)
- 1 teaspoon almond or vanilla extract (optional)
- In a medium bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. You can mix them by hand, use an electric mixer, stand mixer, or a food processor.
- Once you’ve reached a creamy consistency, add the eggs and continue mixing to incorporate them. If using, add the almond or vanilla extract at this point and mix it in.
- Add the almond flour and all-purpose flour and mix until everything is combined. The all-purpose flour here helps thicken the cream and hold it together, but can also be omitted for a gluten-free option.
Use the frangipane as a filling in tarts, cakes, and pastries. Remember that, because the almond cream contains eggs, it needs to be baked before it can be safely consumed.
If you’re not using the filling immediately, it can be refrigerated in a sealed container for up to one week or frozen for up to three months.
If you don’t have almond flour, you can make your own by grinding almonds in a food processor. Use blanched almonds for a more creamy frangipane or unblanched ones for added texture.
Though traditional frangipane is made with almonds, feel free to try it with other types of nuts like walnuts, hazelnuts, pistachios, or some combination!
Marzipan vs Almond Paste
Marzipan and almond paste are easily confused with each other because they are made with the same basic ingredients: almonds, sugar, and some form of binding agent. However, the different ratios of these ingredients in each recipe are what sets these two confections apart.
There is also some confusion around marzipan and almond pastes because, very often, marzipan and almond paste will be the same product in the United Kingdom while being different products in the United States, although it is not very common to find marzipan in North America. The ratio of almonds to sugar is the main factor for their differentiation.
Almond paste has twice the number of almonds in it compared to marzipan, making it coarser in texture and less sweet than its counterpart. Their consistency also differs as marzipan is smooth and pliable, almost clay-like, while the almond paste is somewhat gritty and spreadable, almost like cookie dough.
Because of their differences, marzipan and almond paste should not be substituted for one another, however, you can use the almond paste to make marzipan by balancing out the ratio of sugar to almond. While marzipan can often be enjoyed on its own as candy, the almond paste will require a few extra ingredients to turn it into a delicious treat.
Oftentimes, it is subtle differences in a recipe that can transform one whole ingredient into another. By understanding the differences between marzipan, fondant, frangipane, and almond paste, you can increase your skill level as a baker and add a variety of delicious recipes to your repertoire.