The only thing my mother ever asked me to bring home from the bakery where I worked in high school where almond horn cookies, or Mandelhörnchen, probably no surprise as we are a family of established marzipan fiends, most especially when dark chocolate is also involved. Chewy at the center with crunchy edges, the best ones are dipped in chocolate and while I have yet to see them also with rainbow sprinkles, I say there’s no time like the present to make this a Thing.
If you have no soft spot for almond paste or almond extract, you should turn away now. It’s almost all they’re made of. They’re also naturally flourless, gluten-, leavener- and dairy-free (if you use a dairy-free chocolate); the last time we had a cookie that checked all of these boxes it was all I could talk about for the next six months.
Had I realized how simple they were to make and that they would come out looking exactly as pretty as they do at bakeries, I would have made them at a couple
years, cough, decades sooner. Unless you live in Germany and every corner bakery makes them (this is how I picture Germany, by the way, each corner with a hundreds year-old shop brimming with streuselkuchens and strudels and poppy seed everything, please don’t break my heart with the truth if I’m wrong, okay?), you should make these at home, and soon.
So, of course I could never leave things well enough alone because I know not everyone can get good almond paste at the corner bodega, I attempted to make them with homemade almond paste. Alas, while my first attempt tasted exactly right, the cookies I made with it flattened out. I have a lot more experimenting to do; until then, storebought almond paste is as reliable as it gets.
One year ago: Caramelized Oranges with Yogurt and Mint and Potato Pizza, Even Better
Two years ago: Wild Mushroom Pate and Why You Should Always Toast Your Nuts
Three years ago: Three-Bean Chili and Asparagus-Stuffed Eggs
Four years ago: Spinach and Smashed Egg Toasts
Five years ago: Over-The-Top Mushroom Quiche
Six years ago: French Onion Soup
Seven years ago: Baked Kale Chips, Almond Macaroon Torte with Chocolate Frosting and Tangy Spiced Brisket
Eight years ago: Chewy Amaretti Cookies and Artichoke Olive Crostini
Nine years ago: Swiss Easter Rice Tart and Shaker Lemon Pie
Ten years ago: Arugula Ravioli and Mixed Berry Pavlova
And for the other side of the world:
Six Months Ago: Indian-Spiced Cauliflower Soup and Skillet-Baked Pasta with Five Cheeses
1.5 Years Ago: S’More Cupcakes
2.5 Years Ago: The Crispy Egg
3.5 Years Ago: Miso Sweet Potato and Broccoli Bowl
4.5 Years Ago: Spaghetti with Broccoli Cream Pesto
Traditional Mandelhörnchen are quite large; these are smaller (about 3 to 4 inches across).
Luisa Weiss says in her recipe that she prefers to get chocolate in each bite and not just at the ends; to do so, she simply spreads the chocolate down the back of the cookie instead of dipping the ends. For this, you might find you need a little less chocolate (about 4 ounces) because you won’t need a volume that is dippable.
- 7 ounces (198 grams) almond paste
- 1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
- 1 large egg white
- Two pinches of sea salt
- 1 1/4 cup (130 grams) sliced almonds, blanched are more traditional
- 6 ounces semi- or bittersweet chocolate, chopped or in chips (about 1 cup)
- Colored sprinkles (optional, but not really)
Make cookie dough: Cut, tear or grate paste and place in bowl with the paddle attachment of a stand mixer. (Mine was quite soft, so I just dropped it in in hand-torn chunks.) Add sugar and beat, covering lip of bowl with dishtowel to get bits from flying out, until almond paste cannot be broken up any further, approximately 3 to 5 minutes at a medium-high speed. Add egg white and salt and beat until uniform and creamy. Place sliced almonds in a wide-shallow bowl or plate. Have another bowl with water to get your hands wet.
Form cookies: Wet hands and scoop 1 tablespoon of dough (can use a measuring spoon, a little overfilled is fine) into your palms. It’s going to be very soft and you’re going to think something has gone very wrong; it it has not. Just keep your hands wet and roll it into a 4-ish inch log (I just stretched it across my hand, as you can see in the photo above) and drop it into the bowl of almonds. Wipe your hands dry on a towel (or the almonds stick to your hands, pulling them off the cookie) and roll log through it. Again, it’s quite soft and will seem weird at first but do you best and transfer the soft almond-covered log to the prepared tray and arc it into a horn shape. Press any loose almonds back on. Repeat with remaining dough.
Bake cookies: For 15 minutes, or until almonds on cookies are gently toasted and horns are puffed. Let cool completely.
To finish: Melt chocolate in a small bowl and dip ends of cookies into it, then return to parchment-lined tray to set. Add sprinkles (optional, but of course you want to).
Do ahead: Once chocolate is set, these keep in a tin for a week.