Mutzenmandeln, almond cookies or veritable dough nuts, if you so will, are almond cake dough bits shaped in the form of almonds, fried and rolled in sugar while still hot. Eaten warm, licking sugar covered fingers they are still a rare treat to me since you cannot buy them in Hesse nor would I if I could. They are absolutely seasonal and a traditional German Carnival sweet from the Rhineland and Westphalia region. Where I grew up, you could only buy them during the brief carnival period and to me they were extra special every year. My childhood friend’s mother, our next-door neighbour, kept a jar filled with these almondy morsels until lent and when all children met in their costumes (me: Pipi Longstocking since I got the hair) to celebrate Carnival we would help ourselves to a few from the biscuit barrel on the corner cupboard in the living room before we went out to watch the floats, the costumes and marching bands, trying to catch as many sweets as we could carry.
This year, I made them myself and it brought the whole experience back to me. I could even see the dark red half-timber house our neighbours lived in and feel the excitement we experienced as children before the big celebrations started. I am not really a Carnival person anymore but I am planning to keep with the tradition of making (& eating) these each year – they are absolutely delicious and super easy to make plus the recipe yields about a ton so you’ll have plenty to share with friends and neighbours. Especially the neighbours since the whole house might be filled with the gorgeous scent of fried almond dough and you want to alleviate their pain with a bag of still warm, sugar-covered Mutzenmandeln.
For variation roll some in sugar, others in a mixture of ground cinnamon and sugar or try to leave some plain for a few extra pops in between the sugar dusted ones. Yes, every little helps to avoid the guilt trap and indulge in as many as I can and that’s exactly why I will eat them only once a year. Of course, you don’t have to show the same restraint and serve them at any time of the year with coffee or tea or as an after dinner treat with wine and spirits. Oh dear, will I keep to my resolution?
Mutzenmandeln – German almond dough nuts
Makes quite a lot but just the right amount to distribute amongst friends
For the dough:
500g / 17.7 oz / 4 cups flour
80g / 2.8 oz / ⅓ cup butter
3 egg yolks (keep one of the whites in case your dough is too dry)*
230g / 8.1 oz / 1 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
1 pinch salt
1 ¾ teaspoons baking powder
125g / 4.4 oz / 1 cup ground almonds
1 dash dark rum
fat to fry the almond doughnuts: I used 1 lb. lard, 1 lb. coconut fat, 1 lb. butter oil = clarified butter or ghee (a mixture perfected by my friend and master baker Sophie)
Knead the ingredients into smooth dough (in case the dough is too crumbly, add some of the extra egg white), wrap in cling film and keep in the fridge for at least 2 hours (overnight is fine, too). Melt all three fats and heat to a medium frying temperature while you prepare a plate with kitchen paper to drain the fried Mutzenmandeln and plates with sugar and/or a cinnamon-sugar mix to coat the hot doughnuts. Briefly knead the dough and roll out on a lightly floured surface to ½ cm (⅕ inch) thickness and cut out little almond shaped doughnuts either using a Mutzenmandeln cutter (which handily cuts 20 almonds at a time) or a small drop shaped cookie cutter. Place carefully into the hot fat and fry until golden brown. Drain on paper towels and immediately roll the hot almond doughnuts in sugar or cinnamon-sugar.
* Since the question came up, this recipe uses quite some eggs: three egg yolks, possibly 1 egg white and three whole eggs.
Ergibt eine ganze Menge, aber gerade genug um sie unter Freunden zu verteilen
3 Eigelb (ein Eiweiß zurückbehalten falls der Teig zu trocken ist)
1 Prise Salz
1 ¾ TL Backpulver (½ Päckchen)
125g gemahlene Mandeln
1 Schuß Rum
Fett zum Ausbacken (jeweils 1 Pfund Schmalz, Butterschmalz und Kokosfett, diese perfekte Rezeptur stammt von meiner Freundin und Meisterbäckerin Sophie)
Einen Knetteig herstellen (falls der Teig zu krümelig ist, ein wenig von dem zurückbehaltenen Eiweiß einarbeiten), in Frischhaltefolie wickeln und mindestens 2 Stunden kühl stellen (der Teig hält sich auch über Nacht). Das Ausbackfett erhitzen, einen Teller mit Küchenpapier zum Fett abtropfen zur Seite stellen und Schälchen mit Zucker oder Zimt & Zucker vorbereiten.
Den Teig noch einmal kurz kneten und auf einer leicht bemehlten Arbeitsfläche ½ cm ausrollen (½ cm). Mit einem speziellen Ausstecher mehrere Teigmandeln gleichzeitig oder einer kleinen Tropfenform einzelne Mutzenmandeln ausstechen und diese in heißem Fett goldbraun ausbacken. Auf Küchenpapier das Fett abtropfen lassen und dann die Mandeln noch heiß im Zucker wälzen oder sie pur genießen.