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Thursday, April 6, 2017

Almond Horn Cookies - Small Batch and Heavenly

I recently went to Philadelphia for a continuing education course.  I spent the night and woke up extremely early in order to visit the Reading Terminal Market before the course.  When there, I found a bakery selling amazing baked treats.  Among my purchase was an Almond Horn.  To say the least, I fell in love instantly.  The cookie was crispy but had a chewy inside.  The almond flavoring with chocolate dipped tips were to die for.  I had a second one for my mom, and it took all my power not to eat it myself. 

I set out to find a recipe for Almond horns.  I was surprised to find that almost every recipe yielded a very small number of horns.  The recipe I settled on was supposed to make 6 cookies.  I was able to make 10 cookies from the recipe.  I was satisfied with the size, and am planning to make the cookies again.  

Here is the recipe.  Look below for step by step photo instructions with tips and tricks!
8 ounces (about 3/4 cup) almond paste (not marzipan - VERY IMPORTANT marzipan has a different consistency)
2 egg whites, lightly beaten in a small dish
1/3 cup granulated white sugar
3 tablespoons almond meal or almond flour** 
1 cup sliced almonds
** You can make your own almond flour by blending blanched almonds in a food processor. (if You don't have blanched almonds you have take raw almonds and blanch them in the oven)
Chocolate Glaze:

2 tablespoons heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
2 teaspoons corn syrup
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped (or chips)


1. Line one baking sheet with silicone mats; set aside. I used silicone baking pans. You can also used parchment sheets (but I find them cumbersome).  If you need some good silicone mats, Amazon is a great place to shop. 
2. In a bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, break almond paste into almond-sized chunks. Mine were the size of large chick peas.  
TIP:  Don't skip this step.  It may seem like a waste of time breaking up the almond paste into these little balls.  It is necessary because if you skip this step, the paste won't easily mix with the egg whites and sugar.  You won't have a nice even dough.  If the dough isn't even, the cookies won't bake evenly.

3. You will need to whisk the egg whites LIGHTLY.  You are not trying to make meringue.  You are just trying to get some foam in the egg whites.  I use a nifty spring whisk.  It make this step extremely easy.

** If you are looking to buy a spring whisk you can once again go to the amazing Amazon to buy one at a reasonable price.  I bought mine in the Pennsylvania Macaroni Italian Store in Pittsburgh, PA's Strip District. 

Spring Whisk -- Great Gift for a baker or coffee lover!
4. Next, add sugar and 3 tablespoons of beaten egg white mixture and mix on medium-low speed until a sticky dough is formed and no large chunks remain. Add almond flour and mix until combined.

5. Whisk 1 tablespoon of water into the remaining tablespoon or so of egg white and set aside. (you will use to brush over cookies later)
6. Pour sliced almonds onto a shallow dish or plate. Divide dough into even balls.  

I used a cookie dough scoop.  My original recipe said I could make 6 cookies.  I decided to make 10 cookies.  The key is to make the cookies even.  The smaller the cookies, the shorter the baking time.  Be mindful of that when you decide how big or small to make you dough balls. 

7.  Drop one ball onto the sliced almonds. Roll, using the almonds to prevent the dough from sticking to your hands, into a 4-inch log. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet, and gently shape into a crescent, pressing down to flatten slightly. Repeat with remaining dough.

8.  Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Let cookies sit, uncovered, for 30 minutes, then brush with egg white mixture. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until bottoms are golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool on cookie sheet while you prepare the glaze.

** See above I used a pastry brush to brush the cookies.  This gives the eggs a nice color when baked.  If you skip this step the cookies will look more white and they will not have the appealing sheen to them.  I also think this binds the cookies together better.  So don't skip this step! If you don't have a pastry brush use a spoon to spoon over the liquid.
8.  In a small saucepan, combine cream, butter, and corn syrup. Stir over medium-low heat until melted and smooth. Remove from heat and add chopped chocolate; the residual heat should be enough to fully melt the chocolate. If not, return to low heat for a minute at a time until mixture is smooth.  
** DO NOT have the heat on too high or too long.  If you do, you may burn the glaze, and that will create chunks in the glaze you cannot get out.  You will have to start over, and that is not fun. 

9.  Remove from heat and quickly dip cooled cookies into glaze. 
Okay, back to the cookies! 
10.  Before taking out the cookies, check to see if the sides of the cookies are slightly golden brown.  If they are take the cookies out.  If not, put them back in the oven for another minute or two.  Stay in the kitchen and watch them.  This is not the time to check on the laundry.  
Once the cookies are done.  Take them out and let them sit for at least 15-30 minutes to cool.  You do not want to dip them into the chocolate now.  If you do, the chocolate will melt and pool onto the silicone mats and not at all on your cookies!
11.  Once cool, you now are ready to dip the cookie tips into your amazing chocolate sauce. You can either dip one half or both sides.  I did both sides because that is how they did it in the Reading Terminal Market. Return to baking sheet and let sit for 30 minutes until glaze is set. .

I had a lot of glaze let over.  I at it with my husband over ice cream.  It's so good you can make the sauce one day just for a quick and upscale topping for a weeknight dessert.  

** These cookies should last up to a week in an airtight container... but honestly, you will eat them all before that!

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