Sunday, May 4, 2014

Almond Horns (Mandelhoernchen)

If you've been with this blog for a while, you may have read my "Mandelhoernchen Melancholy" post. It was a disaster and let's leave it at that. After my Almond Paste post a couple of weeks ago and the success of both almond paste recipes I was ready to give Mandelhoernchen another go. I used to get "Almond Horns" from the Freeport Bakery in Sacramento when I worked down town. They were a real treat. So almondy, so crispy and just slightly sweet. The perfect mid-morning pick me up. They were more than a cookie but not quite a pastry, existing on a culinary plane all their own. For many years I erroneously searched for "Almond Crescent" recipes but only turned up a variety of almond shortbread cookies. That wasn't it. I had forgotten that they were called "Almond Horns". Who wudda thunk? Then I discovered the G Bakes blog and Mandelhoernchen and found my long lost love. After exhaustive research on Mandelhoernchen and Almond Horns, I came up with the recipe below and it's a WINNER. Or at least I think it is, check it our for yourself.

On a side note, my daughter and I discovered only just last month that Whole Foods sells these in their bakery in the self service cookie case. Only they don't dip the ends in chocolate. Shame on you Whole Foods, leaving off the chocolate. But honestly, they're pretty good. I'll head back there to snap one up, fo show!

Ingredients: Almond Paste (I used recipe #1 from this post), egg whites (I used the kind in the carton, 1 egg white equals about 2 tablespoons), granulated sugar, almond meal/flour and sliced almonds.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, break up the almond paste so that it is soft and pliable.

Add the granulated sugar and beat until combined.

Add the egg whites, one at a time, until you have a sticky paste. You might not need all the egg white. I added it 1 tablespoon at a time and did use 6 tablespoons (or 3 egg whites). Just be careful that the dough doesn't get too loose or too soupy. Go slowly. Add the almond meal and beat until you have a smooth, sticky uniform dough.

OK, so it hasn't escaped me that I'm taking my homemade almond paste, which is made of ground almonds, sugar and egg whites and adding to it, ground almonds, sugar and egg whites. Seems a bit redundant, I know. It's just changing the ratios of all those ingredients for a different textural outcome. Also, not all almond paste recipes use egg whites as a "binder" so it may not seem as redundant if you use a different almond paste. But. . .whatever. . .let's just go with it. 

Spread some sliced almonds out onto a plate. Plop a scoop of dough, I used a #24 disher, which is about 1.75 ounces by volume, into the center of the almonds and roll out into a log. (Next time I'll use less dough per cookie, see the end of the post.*)

Use the almonds to keep it from sticking to your hands. When you get a log about 7-inches long, curve it into a horseshoe shape.

Lay these out onto a silpat lined cookie sheet, flatten them slightly, and let them sit for at least 1-1/2 hours and up to 3 hours. When you're ready to bake them, preheat your oven to 375°F.

While the cookies are resting, make your simple syrup. Mix equal parts granulated sugar and water in a small saucepan. I went with 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water.

Bring to a boil stirring gently. Then remove from heat, its ready when the liquid turns clear and it bubbles around the edges, and allow to cool completely. 

Bake the cookies for 15-20 minutes until the bottoms are browned. Watch them closely so that the almonds don't get too brown and burn. As soon as they come out of the oven, brush them liberally with the sugar syrup. Let cool completely on the cookie sheet.

For a finishing touch, you can dip the ends in melted chocolate. I used dark chocolate melty 'cause you know how I feel about tempering chocolate. Dipping the ends in chocolate is totes optional, but, believe me, you won't regret it.

These are just like I remember. Crispy, chewy and almondy. Yummy, yum, yum. I loved them and if you like almonds, you'll like 'em too. 

*One quick note: As made above, the cookies came out just a teeny bit underdone in the center. It could be the almond paste I used or it could be the cookies were a bit too thick. Next time I make these, I'll probably use a bit less dough per cookie but still roll them about 7-inches long. It will get me more cookies per batch and should solve the problem. The recipe below reflects this change, the step-by-step above does not.

Almond Horns (Mandelhoernchen)
YIELD: 14-16 cookies

1 lb. almond paste (not marzipan)
2-3 egg whites, lightly beaten in a small dish (4-6 T. egg white)
4 oz. granulated sugar (slightly less than 2/3 cup)
6 tablespoons almond meal or almond flour
2-3 C. sliced almonds

Simple Syrup*

6 oz. dark chocolate dipping chocolate

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a silpat mat and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat almond paste until soft and pliable, add sugar and combine. Add beaten egg whites one at a time until you have a smooth/sticky dough. (you many not use all the egg white) Add almond flour and mix until combined.

Put sliced almonds into a shallow dish or plate. Drop dough in 2 tablespoon sized portions onto the sliced almonds. Roll, using the almonds to prevent the dough from sticking to your hands, into a 7-inch log. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet, and gently shape into a horseshoe, pressing down to flatten slightly. Repeat with remaining dough. Allow cookies to rest for 1-3 hours.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until bottoms are golden brown. Remove from oven and immediately brush with sugar syrup, then let cool completely on cookie sheet.

Dip ends of cooled cookies in melted chocolate and return to cookie sheet until chocolate is set.

Cookies will keep, covered in an airtight container, for up to 1 week.

* For Simple Syrup, stir together 1/2 cup of water and 1/2 cup of sugar. Heat (stove, stirring gently or microwave) until sugar is dissolved, cool completely before using.


  1. Hi Becky,
    When I've made these the chocolate turns slightly white-ish/dry after a few hours. Any idea how I can maintain that shiny beautiful dark color longer? Thanks! So happy to find a Freeport almond horn lover! I've been searching for a copy cat recipe since I had these little delights. Thanks for doing the hard work :) mmmmmm!

    1. The whitish "bloom" on the chocolate has to do with the chocolate not tempering correctly. I'm horrible at tempering chocolate. Just haven't mastered that yet (if I ever will). I usually cheat and use "dark chocolate melty" disks from my local WinCo bulk bins. They aren't REAL chocolate because I don't think there's any cocoa butter in them. (Don't quote me.) But you can melt and remelt them endlessly without having to temper them. DON'T use the Wilton Candy Melts from Michaels. They are really waxy and not much chocolate flavor. I think the disks at WinCo are made by Guittard and are called A'peels. Google it and you can get more info. So glad you like the recipe. These are one of my favorites. Thanks for reading!