Mass Pav – East Indian Almond Marzipan shapes

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Traditional East Indian Christmas sweets include one delicious dessert made from almond marzipan. They take a while to make, but these almond marzipan shaped like stars, Santa, trees, fruits, flowers, veggies, and more are the perfect Christmas treat for friends and family.

After Christmas mass, many cultures celebrate Christmas by visiting nativity scenes, opening gifts under the tree, eating Christmas dinner together, and then enjoying eggnog and mulled wine with Christmas cake and sweets.

We do too! Except our Christmas sweets are quite different. Inherited from the Portuguese who once colonized us, we make some of their traditional desserts with a twist or two.

Take for example the delicious vanilla cream – from the name my Western friends expect it to be something akin to condensed milk, but when they bite into those tiny bites of heaven, they’re instant fans!

Another popular one is what we call mass pav, one of my favorite almond marzipan recipes. This is how dad’s side of the family makes marzipan using almonds, while mom’s side make marzipan with cashewnuts at home in my granny’s style!

Small cermmic teddy bear drummer surrounded by marzipan dessert shapes.
Drumming for the marzipan!

Ingredients For Christmas Almond Marzipan Dessert

All you need to make these delicious marzipan shapes for Christmas are almonds, rose water, powdered sugar, egg whites, butter, and almond essence. Any food colors of your choice can be added.

Ah, another thing you need tough skin. Making the best mass pav recipe requires a certain amount of muscling of the cooked almond mass while it’s still hot and quite often you end up with very red hands later. But it’s worth it!

How To Make Almond Marzipan Sweets for Christmas – East Indian Style

Soak the almonds in water overnight or at least for a few hours. The longer you soak the better because they will absorb the water and the almond skins will become easier to peel off.

Almonds soaking in water in a yellow bowl.
Soak the almonds
Peeled almonds in a yellow plastic bowl.
Peel the almonds

If you have less time, boil water and then soak the almonds in this hot water for 10 to 15 minutes, before dropping them in really cold water. This will help to remove the skins a little quicker.

Put the peeled almonds in a mixer grinder and grind. Add rose water, since this helps it to grind faster.

Raw skinned almonds in a mixer grinder jar.
Grind the almonds

Next, you can also add in the egg whites to the mixer and beat them with the ground marzipan. This all used to be done without mixies in our grandparent’s time. Real muscle-working stuff!

Egg whites added to almond paste.
Add the egg whites to the almond paste and beat

Pour the almond, rose water, and egg white mixture into a wide-bottomed pot; the same one that you’re going to be using to cook it in later. Also, add the powdered sugar, mix well, and allow to rest for around 30 minutes or more. An hour is fine too.

Almond paste added to to a wide-bottomed dish.
Add the almond paste to a wide-bottomed dish
Sugar added to the almond paste.
Sugar on top!
Allow the almond-egg-sugar mix to rest for 30 minutes.
Allow the almond-egg-sugar mix to rest for 30 minutes

After the time’s up, place the pot on the stove on a low flame and stir continually. We usually take turns and change up every 10 minutes because it’s a really tough mass and when you make in large quantities like we do, it takes a bit longer. That’s my mum helping me stir. 😍

Mom stirring the almond mass with a wooden spoon.
Stir continuously with a wooden spoon

The almond mixture will gradually thicken. Once it does, add in a tablespoon of butter and stir again for a little while.

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The almond mixture thickens in the pot.
The almond mixture thickens after some time
Add a tablespoon of butter to the almond mixture.
Add a tablespoon of butter to the almond mass

You can test the consistency of the almond marzipan with a teaspoon. Remove about a quarter teaspoon of the marzipan let it cool. After it’s cool, butter your fingers and try to form it into a ball. If it does, it’s ready to be taken off the flame. If not, continue stirring and check again after a few minutes. Repeat this process till it’s ready.

Once you’re able to form a ball, pour the almond marzipan onto a thala (large flat steel pan) that has been dusted with powdered sugar. Or you can use a large flat board instead of the steel one, just as long as it’s sugar-dusted. Don’t want to waste mass pav by having it stick to the flatboard surface.

A thala (large steel plate) sprinkled with powdered sugar.
Sprinkle a thala with powdered sugar
Pour the cooked almond marzipan onto a thala (big flat plate).
Pour the cooked almond marzipan onto a thala

Allow the almond marzipan to cool for about 5 minutes (making sure it’s not getting dry) and then knead it for a while. (We’re allowing it to cool so that we don’t burn our fingers while kneading it.)

Divide the marzipan into smaller portions depending on how many colors you want. We do anywhere from 3 to 5 colors – pink, green, yellow, blue, and one colorless.

Knead each almond dough ball again to mix the color and then use the marzipan molds to form your shapes. We make angels, Santas, stars, bells, snowmen, trees, flowers, fruits, veggies, and other shapes!

Add color to the almond mass and knead into balls.
Add color and knead into balls

To de-mold the shapes, simply turn the form over and hit it over the back with a wooden spoon or spatula. Not too hard. You don’t want the pieces to break!

Place these Christmas dessert shapes on a sugar-dusted plate or flat board and allow to dry. We usually leave them overnight and some of them mysteriously disappear.

Marzipan shaped like Snowmen, stars, Santas, trees and bells left to set on a steel plate.
Snowmen, stars, Santas, trees and bells

Once the shapes are ready, you can add them to a gift box and send to friends and family. We used to sell sweets too, but that was ten years ago!

Gift boxes of marzipan and vanilla cream.
Our old gift boxes of marzipan and vanilla cream
Pieces of Christmas marzipan shapes on a black plate.
And we’re ready for Christmas!
Pieces of Christmas marzipan shapes on a black plate.

How to make Almond Marzipan Christmas Sweets

Almond Marzipan or mass pav is a traditional East Indian Christmas dessert. These small almond marzipan pieces shaped like stars, Santa, trees, fruits, flowers, and veggies take a while to prepare but are the perfect Christmas treat for friends and family.
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Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Resting time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Course Dessert, Easter
Cuisine East Indian
Servings 80 pieces
Calories 100 kcal
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  • 250 grams Blanched Almonds Without Skin
  • 350 grams Powdered Sugar
  • 2 Egg Whites
  • 1 Tablespoon Butter
  • 10 ml Almond Essence
  • 150 ml Rose Water
  • 2 drops Pink food colour
  • 2 drops Green Food Colour


  • Soak the almonds in water overnight, and the next morning peel the skins. If you don't have enough time, see tips in my recipe on how to peel after soaking for a few hours.
  • Grind the almonds in a mixer grinder with rose water. Once ground to a fine paste, also beat in the egg whites.
  • Pour the almond paste mixture into a wide-bottomed cooking pot and add the powdered sugar. Mix well and allow to rest for half an hour to an hour.
  • Once the dough has rested, place the pot on the stove on a low flame. Stir continuously for about 30 to 40 minutes.
  • Once the mixture thickens, add a tablespoon of butter and continue stirring.
  • Take out a bit in a teaspoon to check the consistency. Allow it to cool for about 30 secs, then try to form into a ball. If the ball forms, pour it out onto a thali dusted with powdered sugar.
  • Allow to cool a little (3 to 5 minutes) and then divide the almond marzipan dough into 3 to 5 different balls depending on how many colors you want. Add different colors and knead well..
  • Use the Xmas moulds to shape the sweet pieces. Leave overnight to dry and then share with friends and family!

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  • Peel the almond skin before using them.
  • Use powdered sugar so you do not have to worry about sugar granules.
  • Use the rose water to grind the almonds in the mixer. It also adds flavor!
  • Once you reach the half-hour mark, remember to check the consistency every few minutes and try forming the tiny ball to check if it’s ready.
  • If the marzipan gets too dry, add in more rosewater to soften it.
  • Go here if you want the cashew nut marzipan recipe.
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Nutrition (Per Serving)

Calories: 100kcal | Carbohydrates: 13g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 0.02g | Cholesterol: 1mg | Sodium: 8mg | Potassium: 59mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 12g | Vitamin A: 12IU | Calcium: 20mg | Iron: 0.3mg

Disclaimer: Nutrition Information per serving is estimated by a third party software based on the ingredients used, and is for informational purposes only. It will vary from product to product, based on methods of preparation, origin and freshness of ingredients. Please consult the package labels of the ingredients you use, or chat with your dietician for specific details.

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Just a closer look at the marzipan.
Just a closer look!

Recipe Pointers For East Indian Almond Marzipan Sweets

  • Peel the skin off the almonds before grinding them.
  • Use powdered sugar so you do not have to worry about sugar granules.
  • Use the rose water to grind the almonds in the mixer. It will help to grind finer to a finer paste which is really the epitome of marzipan sweets.
  • Once you reach the 30-minutes mark, remember to start checking the consistency by forming a tiny ball every few minutes.
  • If the marzipan gets too dry, add in more rosewater to soften it.
  • If your almond marzipan is too wet, you can put it back on the stove for a few minutes. Or you can add in powdered sugar which is easier but will make it sweeter.
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Common Questions About Almond Marzipan Dessert

Why is marzipan called marzipan?

The history of the name is not certain, but it can be traced back to the wheat shortage faced in Europe in the 1500s when almond flour was used as a replacement for wheat flour. Marzipan is a German-derived name that is more well-known than the old English word ‘marchpane’ or march bread.

What can marzipan be used for?

Marzipan can be used to make Christmas sweets like mass pav, or even marzipan muffins, tarts, or Easter eggs. We can also use marzipan to layer sugarcraft cakes.

How long can Marzipan be stored?

Marzipan can be stored in an air-tight container for up to 6 months in a refrigerator. Marzipan Christmas sweets can be stored in air-tight containers at room temperature for a few weeks.

Can you freeze almond marzipan?

Yes, you can freeze almond marzipan for as long as 5 to 6 months. Simply thaw it before eating.

Can We Make Marzipan Without Eggs?

Yes, you can make marzipan without eggs if you want to. Just substitute it with rose water and it works quite well. The reason we use egg whites in marzipan is so that it holds its shape better and lasts a few weeks longer. But if you want to try it, here’s my sister’s recipe for eggless marzipan.

What Other East Indian Christmas Desserts Can You Make?

Christmas desserts East Indians make usually include traditional dark fruit cake, light fruit cake, kulkuls, carambolas, nevries, vanilla cream, cordial, fudge, and many more. You’ll find all the recipes listed in our East Indian Christmas List.

So that’s everything you need to know about how to make East Indian almond marzipan! Which one do you prefer almond or cashew marzipan? Comment and let us know!

If you want our traditional East Indian recipes on hand, the Abby's Plate Cookbook Series books are available online or in-store in most countries.

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