Anja Dunk’s Advent bake: the perfect Christmas biscuit
The Insta-star chef has brought out a gorgeous festive book of baking. Not only has she shared a delish (and pretty) recipe with us, but she's offered three copies of her latest cookbook to Muddy readers!
Mandelhörnchen are an all-year-round classic German biscuit, and so firmly seated in the nation’s heart that they would be sorely missed if they were excluded from Advent celebrations. For me, more than anything, it’s their crescent shape that makes them particularly festive and they sit comfortably among the other Kipferl variety of biscuits on a Bunter Teller.
The main ingredient for Mandelhörnchen in Germany is usually Marzipanrohmasse, but I’ve tested and written this recipe using marzipan, which gives them a uniquely chewy texture and subtle almond flavour, which I prefer. Often they are also made with added almond extract but I don’t feel the need to include it as the toasty flaked almonds on the outside of the biscuits are flavour enough. It’s custom to dip each end in chocolate but more often than not I don’t bother, preferring to let the almonds do the talking.
Makes about 40
175g (6oz) flaked (slivered) almonds
500g (1lb 2oz) marzipan, grated (I prefer to use golden for colour, but white is also fine)
300g (2¹⁄₃ cups) ground almonds (almond flour)
200g (1½ cups minus 1 tbsp) icing (confectioners’) sugar
3 egg whites for dipping
200g (7oz) dark chocolate
¾ tsp coconut oil
Heat the oven to 150°C/130°C fan/300°F and line 3 large baking sheets with non-stick baking parchment. Put the flaked almonds into a shallow dish.
Put the grated marzipan, ground almonds, icing sugar and egg whites into a large bowl. Mix with a wooden spoon, then use your hands to knead it into a dough. It will be very sticky and messy.
Pinch off a walnut-sized piece of dough and roll between your hands to form a log about 9cm/3½in long. Roll in the flaked almonds until coated all over, then bend into a crescent shape and place it gently onto a prepared sheet.
Repeat until all of the dough is used up. If it becomes too sticky, you can dust your hands with a little icing sugar to help the rolling process – just remember the aim is for the almonds to stick and too much icing sugar will prevent that from happening.
Bake in the oven for about 18 minutes until just golden. Allow to cool on the sheets for a minute before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
Meanwhile, if you choose to dip them in chocolate as per tradition, put the chocolate and coconut oil into a heatproof bowl placed over a small saucepan with a 1cm/3/8in depth of water in the bottom. Turn the heat on low and wait for the chocolate to melt. Once melted, stir it until glossy and fluid.
Dip each end of the crescents into the chocolate, or spoon it over instead (which I find easier when you’re coming to the end of the chocolate).
Lay the biscuits back down onto the wire rack and allow the chocolate an hour or so to set.
Stored in an airtight container, these will last for at least 3 weeks.
Head to Muddy HQ Instagram to get your mitts on a copy of Advent. Ready, set, BAKE!
Advent: Festive German Bakes to Celebrate the Coming of Christmas by Anja Dunk (Quadrille, £25)