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I make this German almond horns recipe every year for Christmas. For me, these Christmas cookies have a personal history. Wonderful memories I love to relive each year, of my time living in Germany.
For most foreigners living in Germany, the first taste of German Christmas pastries is miraculous—it might as well be angels singing.
The Magic Of A German Christmas
The smells of the mulled wine brewing in large, black, cast iron pots on the streets and Christmas music playing, are everywhere you go. The handmade items for sale are exquisite, and most importantly, there was no commercialism to be found for the most part. Just the pure sense of the holiday. Happiness, family, and a bit of snow to top it off. Magical.
On the home front, the whirlwind of baking that ensues each year the moment the season starts was nothing short of miraculous! I’ve never seen such organization in the kitchen. Such planning and care go into each batch of baked goodies. And, to my horror, all of it was stored away for Christmas.
Every. Single. Cookie.
What Are German Almond Horn Cookies?
In German, they are called Mandelhörnchen. But I won’t ask you to pronounce that. Instead, we’ll call them by their translated name, Almond Horns (a.k.a. Almond Crescents).
These cookies are delicate, horseshoe-shaped almond cookies that taste a bit like marzipan, and often have their ends or backsides dipped in melted chocolate. The family I lived with did not use the chocolate, but it’s an option if you’d like to try it.
This sweet treat is a very common Christmas cookie that can be found in most German bakeries throughout the country. They are a throwback to Nordic traditions and even possibly to the annual return of a horned God, celebrated at Yule (winter solstice).
With Or Without Almond Paste
Many Mandelhörnchen recipes call for almond paste. And while I’m sure this produces a lovely cookie, that just isn’t how we made them. So the recipe below uses almond flour instead of almond paste.
Chocolate Dipped Almond Horns – Mandelhörnchen
If you want to finish your cookies by dipping them in chocolate, simply melt about 1 cup of chocolate on low heat in a small, 1-quart slow cooker. Once melted, change to the Warm setting.
If you don’t have a small slow cooker, you can microwave the chocolate in 30-second intervals, stirring each time, until it’s melted. You’ll have to dip your cookies quickly if you go this route.
Line a baking sheet or two with parchment paper, dip about a quarter to a half-inch of the cookie tips in the chocolate, and lay them on the parchment paper. Place the pans in the fridge to let the chocolate harden.
Note that if you want to dip the backsides (or bottoms) in chocolate so you can put almonds on the fronts (or tops), you’ll want to put some of the melted chocolate in a shallow dish to make dipping easier.
Other Traditional Cookie Decorations
Two other ways you’ll find these cookies decorated is:
- Covered in powdered sweetener.
- Covered in slivered almonds or sliced almonds. (These are gently pressed into the cookies before baking)
- While this is not traditional, you could easily roll the little pieces of dough in ground almonds as well for a nuttier texture.
Tips And Tricks For Making This Almond Horn Recipe
- The dough can be a bit finicky. Patience pays off here.
- These are meant to be small cookies. You can make them larger if you wish, however.
- Make sure to pack these up and let them sit, at minimum, overnight in the fridge. They don’t taste like much just after being baked. They need to sit for the flavors to develop.
- These are meant to have a lemony flavor. If you prefer to have an almond flavor, you can leave out the lemon zest, and instead, add 1 tsp. of almond extract to the dough.
Can You Make These Using A Stand Mixer?
Absolutely. Place all the ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer, use a paddle attachment, and mix on low to medium speed.
About The Ingredients
½ cup unsalted butter – 1 stick warmed to room temperature.
½ cup honey – Any type of honey is fine.
1 large egg yolk – This works best at room temperature.
1 tbsp. fresh lemon zest – This is the zest of approximately 1 lemon. Do not add any lemon juice. If you want a stronger lemon flavor, use 1 tsp. of lemon extract.
2 ½ cups whole wheat pastry flour – If you can’t find it, the next best thing is white whole wheat flour.
1 cup almond flour – This is different than almond meal.
1½ tsp. pure vanilla extract – Don’t use vanilla flavoring. That’s a different animal.
1 large egg white – This is to brush on before baking to give your cookies a nice finish.
How To Make German Almond Horns- Mandelhörnchen
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Mix all ingredients in a large mixing bowl, and let stand for 1 hour in the fridge.
Roll small walnut-sized balls of the dough mixture (a heaping tablespoon of dough) into strips that can be shaped into a horn (or horseshoe) shape, and brush with egg white.
Bake for 15-17 minutes and cool on a wire rack/cooling rack.
Storage: Let these sit in a sealed container overnight. The flavors really develop when they are allowed to sit until the next day. They won’t taste like much right out of the oven.
How To Store German Almond Horns
You’ll want to pack these up in an airtight container and store them in the fridge. Standard food-safety rules say that these will be good in the fridge for up to a week. But when we made these, the honey was used as a preservative and the cookies were kept in the cellar for over a month. So I leave that decision up to you. Just be sure to pack them well and keep them cold.
Can You Freeze Almond Horn Cookies?
You absolutely can! Wrap them well with plastic wrap, then put that into an airtight container. They will keep well in the freezer for up to 4 months.
Need Recipe Equipment?
Looking For More Traditional German Christmas Recipes?
German Almond Horns Cookie Recipe
German Almond Horn Cookies Recipe
- ½ cup butter (1 stick – room temperature)
- ½ cup honey
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 tbsp. fresh lemon zest
- 2 ½ cups whole wheat pastry flour
- 1 cup almond meal
- 1 ½ tsp. pure vanilla extract
- 1 large egg white (to brush on before baking
- Preheat oven to 350 F. Mix all ingredients in a large mixing bowl, and let stand for 1 hour in the fridge.
- Roll small walnut-sized balls of dough into strips that can be shaped into a horn (or horseshoe) shape, and brush with egg white.
- Bake for 15-17 minutes.
- Storage: Let these sit in a sealed container overnight. The flavors really develop when they are allowed to sit until the next day. They won't taste like much right out of the oven.
Recipe from the Gracious Pantry® archives, originally posted 12/10/2009.