These almond paste cookies, German Mandelhörnchen or almond horns, are almond-flavored cookies that are dipped in chocolate. They’re dense, chewy and can be made weeks ahead of time! They can be made with or without almond paste and with or without a food processor. They’re also naturally gluten-free and have paleo and vegan options.
This recipe comes from the German equivalent of Allrecipes, which is called Chefkoch. I made a few changes, like using vanilla extract in place of lemon juice, adding vanilla extract and adding salt, but other than that, it’s the original German recipe.
I thought I’d start my post with that tidbit because there’s another blogger (or actually, several) who used the Chefkoch recipe in her post. But she didn’t credit Chefkoch and I don’t want people to think I copied this other blogger. It’s the most popular and highly-reviewed recipe when you google Mandelhörnchen, so it’s the one I used.
Anyway. I personally find German cookies to be quite bland. Yes, they use less fat and less sugar than American cookies but the trade-off is less flavor.
But with the almond/vanilla extracts and the chocolate, these are some super flavorful cookies. They’re also not low in sugar. The result is definitely my favorite German cookie recipe!
And I think they’re quite impressive looking. I’m guessing that a tray of these cookies along with my other almond paste cookies, these pignoli cookies, would be the hit of any cookie exchange (which I guess aren’t really happening this year, but hopefully next!). These chewy gingerbread cookies, molasses cookies and peanut butter cookies would also be a great addition.
What are German Almond Horn Cookies?
They’re crescent-shaped, almond paste-based cookies that are covered in sliced almonds. The ends are dipped in chocolate.
They’re dense, perfectly chewy and similar to marzipan cookies. You can find them all over Germany, and they’re especially popular for Christmas.
With or without almond paste
Like the pignoli cookies, this recipe can be made with this homemade almond paste recipe, with store-bought almond paste or you can make the version without almond paste, which you find in the notes below the recipe.
The version without almond paste uses exactly the same ingredients and amounts as the version with the almond paste. It’s just that you combine them all at once instead of making almond paste first. I hope that makes sense!
If you use store-bought almond paste, you need 1 package. If you use homemade, then you need 1/2 of the batch.
The almond paste recipe calls for 1 egg white, so you, unfortunately, can’t just make a half batch of the almond paste. Or, well, you can, but then you need to measure out 16 grams of egg white. It’s not that hard and something I’ve done countless times recently but still, a bit of a pain.
It’s better to just make the whole batch of almond paste and then freeze the rest for later.
The version without almond paste
If you go the almond paste route, you’d need 1 1/2 eggs whites to make the cookies from scratch. That’s also annoying to measure and you’d be leftover with 1 1/2 egg yolks. So for the almond paste-less version, I used 1 egg + 1 egg yolk and used the leftover egg white to brush over the cookies.
That helps the almonds stick. It worked great! You don’t need nearly the whole egg white, so you’ll still be leftover with some egg white, but at least the measurements are easy.
The paleo version
For the paleo version, you make the almond paste-free version, and just use coconut sugar in place of the powdered sugar. And the texture is just as good! They’re wonderfully chewy.
I do recommend using a little more almond extract, though. Like I said in the pignoli cookie recipe, I was surprised that coconut sugar works well in an almond-flavored recipe. But a little extra almond extract helps.
The coconut sugar version is less sweet than the powdered sugar version. I used just 1/2 cup (100 grams) of coconut sugar instead of 1 1/2 cups (168 grams) powdered sugar in the regular version.
But they don’t really taste all that less sweet than the regular version. I would say that they’re an excellent paleo Christmas cookie option! As are these chai spiced cookies, paleo gingerbread men cookies and paleo double chocolate cookies.
Because coconut sugar is so much darker than powdered sugar, the cookies are much darker in color. Here’s what the paleo version looks like. I hadn’t intended on taking photos and don’t care what our cookies look like so pardon the terrible looking cookies and photos.
A vegan version
I was about to hit publish when I figured it wasn’t very nice of me to not offer a vegan option. I had thought it was pointless to even try.
But I just tried with chia eggs and it worked perfectly. In the almond paste-free version and the paleo version.
I didn’t bother brushing the tops of the crescents with chia eggs because I didn’t think it was needed. The dough was stickier than the other non-vegan versions and this allowed the sliced almonds to stick to the dough.
Without the egg white wash, the cookies are more fragile but super tasty and the texture just the same.
A perfect make-ahead or send in the mail cookie
One really great thing about these cookies is that they last for several weeks. So if you want to send cookies in the mail or give these to your mailman but you don’t know when you’ll see him next (our current situation!), this is your recipe.
And they’re not fragile, even with the almonds. Sure, some almonds might break but the cookies themselves are very sturdy. I’m not sure about sending the vegan version, though, since they’re not as sturdy.
A few notes on the ingredients
Make sure to use finely ground blanched almond flour. If you don’t, your dough will be sticky and hard to manage and the cookies will spread too much.
Also, note that almond flour may be called ground almonds in your country. You don’t want to use deoiled/defatted almond flour, which is what ‘almond flour’ is in the UK, Germany and several other countries outside of the US.
If you live outside of the US, weigh your eggs. 30-32 grams is the correct amount for 1 egg white. In Germany, I always use medium eggs in place of large eggs if the recipe is from the US.
In the US, a large egg = 50 grams and in Germany, a medium egg = 50 grams. So weigh those eggs! And don’t worry – my recipes are written for a US audience. So when I say large egg, I mean a US large egg.
Read the questions section below if you’re thinking of making any changes at all to the recipe. :)
Substitution questions about these almond paste cookies?
- Can I use marzipan instead of almond paste?
No, as it’s a different product. They’re pretty similar so it could work, but I wouldn’t want anyone to waste their expensive ingredients to find out!
I wrote about the differences between marzipan and almond paste in my almond paste recipe so go read that out if you’re interested.
- Can I use something other than almond flour?
Regular wheat flour or a gluten-free baking mix will definitely not work. Another nut flour/meal might work but I haven’t tried it.
I’m pretty sure that the cookies will spread more as other types of nut flours aren’t as finely ground as almond flour (at least in my experience).
- Can I use something instead of powdered sugar?
If you want to use coconut sugar, make the paleo version. Liquid sweeteners won’t work (I’ve tried). I haven’t tried making a keto version but think that could possibly work if you have a good 1:1 sub for powdered sugar.
- Can I reduce the granulated sugar?
They’re not overly sweet so I wouldn’t recommend it. If you reduce it, they’ll be less sturdy and more cakey.
- How can I replace the eggs?
I’ve only tried these with chia eggs and they worked great. Other egg subs might work but I haven’t tried them so I can’t say for sure.
You need to make the almond paste-free version, use chia eggs in the dough and omit the egg wash (see notes below the recipe for the vegan version).
- Can I use something instead of almonds?
You can use whatever type of nut you’d like to coat the cookies. But since they have a strong almond flavor, I went with almonds.
If you want to use a different type of nut, you could make the almond paste-free version, use more vanilla extract in place of the almond extract and then you wouldn’t have a strong almond flavor. It’d probably be very subtle.
If you give these almond paste cookies a try, let me know how they turn out for you!
Almond Paste Cookies - German Almond Horns
- Prep Time:
- Cook Time:
- Ready in:
- Yield: 17 cookies
For the paleo and version without almond paste, see the notes below the recipe.
- one 7-ounce pack of almond paste or 1/2 batch homemade almond paste
- 1 cup (100 grams) blanched almond flour (ground almonds in the UK)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract2
- 1 cup (100 grams) powdered sugar3
- 1 large (32 grams) egg white4
- 1 large (32 grams) egg white
- 1 cup (100 grams) sliced almonds
- 2/3 cup (113 grams) chopped semi-sweet chocolate, melted
- 1 teaspoon coconut oil
On the outside:
- Preheat the oven to 350 °F (175 °C) and line a baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper.
- Break up the almond paste into about 2" chunks and place in the bowl of a food processor fitted with an S-blade. Add the remaining dough ingredients and pulse until a dough forms. It'll be sticky but workable.
- Break up the almond paste into about 2" chunks. Put all the ingredients into a large mixing bowl. You can use a hand mixer or your hands to get it all combined. It'll be sticky but workable.
- Place the sliced almonds into a small bowl (big enough to dip dough logs in).
- Form about a 1.5" (24-gram / 20-gram for paleo) ball and roll into a little log.
- Beat the egg white a little with a fork and brush egg white all over the cookie.
- Dip the cookie into the sliced almonds.
- Form into a crescent shape. Place them about 2" apart on the baking sheet. They'll puff up quite a bit.
- Bake for 14-15 minutes or until lightly browned.
- Let cookies cool on the baking sheet for about 5 minutes and then transfer cookies to a cooling rack to cool completely.
- Once cooled, combine the melted chocolate + coconut oil in a small bowl.
- Dip the ends of each cookie in the chocolate. Place back on a parchment-lined sheet and let them harden completely. I put them in the fridge for 30 minutes and that does the job.
- Once the chocolate has hardened, store in an airtight container for up to 2-3 weeks. They can also be frozen for several months.
If using a food processor:
If not using a food processor:
- If making the version without almond paste, this is your dough recipe:
– 2 cups + 2 tablespoons (213 grams) blanched almond flour (ground almonds in the UK)
– 1 1/2 cups (168 grams) powdered sugar (sifted if lumpy)
– 1 large (50 grams, out of shell) egg
– 1 large egg yolk (18 grams)
– 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
– 1 1/4 teaspoons almond extract
– 1/8 teaspoon salt
Put everything together in a food processor bowl fitted with an S-blade and pulse until a dough forms. It'll be sticky but workable. To make it without a food processor, put the wet ingredients in a mixing bowl, stir and then add the dry ingredients. You can use a hand mixer or a big spoon and then use your hands to get it all combined. It'll be sticky but workable. Continue to Step 4 above.
- Or more vanilla if you don't want a very obvious almond flavor
- For the paleo version: Use the above dough recipe except use 1/2 cup very tightly packed cup (100 grams) coconut sugar in place of the powdered sugar AND use 1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract and 3/4 teaspoon almond extract instead of the amounts in the recipe above. Make sure to use paleo chocolate.
- For a vegan version, make the above homemade version without almond paste. Use 1.5 chia eggs in place of the egg in the recipe. You need 1.5 tablespoons ground chia seeds + 4.5 tablespoons water. Mix together until gloopy like an egg. Omit the egg white used for brushing the dough logs. The dough will be sticky enough for the almonds to stick, but they'll be more fragile once baked. Make sure to use paleo chocolate.