Pistachio Almond Apricot Cranberry Cookie Thins

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I am crazy about Almondina cookies. When I first tasted these cookies (ten years ago?), I became obsessed. I actually e-mailed the company to find out about future distribution.

And, of course, I needed to know how to make them myself. The grandma behind these cookies called them petit gateau sec. But I had no luck finding any recipe online with that name.

Then I figured out that they must be some kind of mandelbread (or mandelbrodt or mandelbrot). After endless searching, I found a recipe at recipecottage for mandelbread that had the same ingredients as the Almondina cookies: egg whites, sugar, almond, flour. Bingo! The recipe was missing raisins, but that was easy to remedy.

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I converted the metric measurements and made the recipe, adding in raisins. Wow! Just like the Almondina cookies! I was so thrilled.

Since my initial discovery, I read in Alford and Duguid’s Home Baking (p. 387) that these cookies are known in Australia as Australian Mandelbread Mandel-Melbas. The Alford/Duguid recipe called for whole eggs, but provided fairly similar results.

Then, I found a another all egg white recipe similar to the recipecottage recipe on Jewish Food-List.com, also called Australian Mandelbread. And there is another recipe on the same site, almost identical, called Melba Mandelbread (from Norene Gilletz’s Healthy Helpings). Both the recipe cottage recipe and the Jewish Food-List recipe for Australian Mandelbread call for extra narrow loaf pans which help create the right shape. The recipe for Melba Mandelbread calls for a regular 9″x5″ loaf pan. (And here is version of melba-style mandelbread that calls for mini loaf pans!)

While the recipecottage mandelbread is toasted at 350 degrees, and the Alford/Dugiud melba-mandels are toasted at 300 degrees, the Jewish Food-List mandelbread is dried out at 200 degrees. I have found that 35o degrees get the cookies brown like the Almondina cookies, but you need to watch like a hawk because the cookies can brown unevenly at that temperature, especially if the cookies are not sliced evenly (very, very tricky). At 300 degrees, you still need to be very watchful. A 200 degree oven dries out the cookies without browning them, which is slightly different taste experience.

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Anyway, I have made this recipe many times, but have never gotten around to making flavor variations.

Until I saw a stunning flavor variation at BakingObsession.com. Vera says her “toasts” come from Australia, and the base recipe is same as the recipecottage and Jewish Food-List recipes. The twist is that Vera adds cubes of apricots, apricot kernals, and pistachios. Plus, she adds the haunting flavor of cardomom and the zing of orange and lemon zest.

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I made these cookies, substituting almonds for the apricot kernals and adding in dried cranberries.

Wow. Were these ever good. I was a little nervous about the cardomom, but it was excellent. A very sophisticated, very pretty cookie.

Vera recommends baking the loaf in a 8″x4″ pan, but, if you increased the ingredients by 50 percent, you could bake a longer loaf in a pullman loaf pan. This is the type of pan I like to use when I make this type of cookie.

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Pistachio Almond Apricot Craisin Mandelbread Thins
adapted from Baking Obsession

Sift together in a small bowl and set aside [I just stirred, no sifting. It was fine]:
1 cup all-purpose flour [note: about 4.25 ounces]
½ tsp ground cardamom

Beat egg whites until frothy on medium speed, add the salt, increase the speed to medium high and then gradually add the sugar, beating until the whites are stiff and glossy:
• 4 large egg whites, at room temperature
• ¼ tsp salt [oops, I forgot to add this. Just as well, the pistachios were salted and the whites beat up fine anyway.]
• ½ cup fine granulated sugar (note: about 3.75 ounces)

In three additions, gently fold in the flour mixture. The fold in:
grated  zest of ½ orange [I did the whole orange, well mostly]
grated zest of ½ lemon [I added the rind of most of the lemon]
1/2 cup pistachios (2 ounces)
½ cup whole almonds (2.25 ounces)
½ cup finely chopped dry apricots, tossed with 1/2 tsp. flour to keep pieces from sticking together (about 4 ounces)

Spread the batter gently in a loaf pan (8″x4″) lined with parchment (ungreased!). I spread half the batter, sprinkled over some dried cranberries, then spread over the rest of the batter.

Bake the loaf in a 350 degree oven for 30-40 minutes. The top of the cake will be lightly golden and a cake tester will come out clean.  Cool in the pan  for 10 minutes, unmold, and then cool completely. Wrap and freeze or refrigerate overnight. This is pretty critical to the final texture and ease of slicing.

Cut the chilled loaf into 1/8-inch” slices. Place the slices on two parchment-lined baking sheets.

Dry out the slices at 200 degrees for 40-60 minutes. You are looking for crispness, not browning. To facilitate even drying out, flip the slices over through half of the baking time. You can let the slices cool in the turn-off the oven.

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For a Fall/Winter flavor (Pumpkin Spice), go here.

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36 Responses to “Pistachio Almond Apricot Cranberry Cookie Thins”

  1. lisamichele Says:

    Those are absolutely beautiful…the combo of fruits and nuts gives them a slab of jewels look, and no doubt they’re delicious. Bookmarking these now!

  2. Y Says:

    Those look fantastic – I love the colours in the cross section. Like little jewels :)

  3. pragmaticattic Says:

    Thanks Lisa and Y! Yes, the cookies remind me of jewels, too. Actually,I think of stained glass. Maybe they should be called stained glass bisotti.

  4. Rosa Says:

    Oh, how colorful! Those cookies are wonderful!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  5. pragmaticattic Says:

    Thanks Rosa!

  6. Madam Chow Says:

    Oh my gosh, those are absolutely beautiful. They remind me of a piece of jewelry.

    • pragmaticattic Says:

      Thanks! I want to try them again with a mix of dried cherries and blueberries added in to make them even more colorful.

  7. Carrie Says:

    I am absolutely addicted to Almondina and have been searching for a recipe to duplicate them! I can not wait to try these!!!I am sitting here now trying not to eat an entire package in one sitting! Thank you sooo much!!

  8. Carrie Feinstein Says:

    GOD BLESS YOU. I too am Almondinaobsessed!! And I have not stopped making these since I discovered your recipe. I have made all different variety’s – diff nuts, fruits, spices, chocolate. The possibilities are endless!!! I never have to shell out all that dough for Almondina again, I am a virtual Almondina factory!!! LOVE IT!!!! Thank you Thank you!!!

    • pragmaticattic Says:

      I’m so glad this recipe has worked out for you. Are working from the recipe that works in an 8×4 pan (about 4 ounces of everything), or the recipe that works in a 12×4 pan (about 6 ounces of everything)? It isn’t so easy to find the longer pan.

      I would love to know what your variations are! (Like a chocolate version . . .)

  9. Donna Knopf Says:

    I have serarched for this recipe for a long ,long time.
    Thank you!
    Also, I appreciate all the added history and backround notes!

    • pragmaticattic Says:

      Thanks Donna. I looked forever for this recipe and was also thrilled to finally be able to make my own version of this cookie. BTW, have you ever tried the chocolate dipped Almondinas? They are a seasonal item that you might be able to find now, and they are just amazing. I have yet to try to chocolate dip my cookies, but, really, it takes the cookie to a whole other level.

  10. Carrie Feinstein Says:

    i have basically tried duplicating all the different almondina flavorings. I have made a batch with chocolate, adding unsweetened cocoa powder (about 1-2 tsp) to the flour before adding to the egg whites. I’ve made cinnamon ones, pumpkin spice with pumpkin seeds and pumpkin pie spice, hazelnut and raisin, and next will try adding sesame seeds to the batter along with almonds and raisins. They are a big hit with everyone. Now I just have to figure out how to use up all the egg yolks…hate to throw them away!!! Any ideas?? Thanks again! Oh, one more thing. I find it much easier to slice thin if refrigerated overnight, not frozen.

    • pragmaticattic Says:

      Thanks Carrie, I was just thinking about making the pumpkin spice! What exactly did you do (spice amount, etc.), and are you working from a 4 or 6 egg batch? I understand there is a chocolate cherry now… How yum does that sound?

      BTW, I totally agree that an overnight chill in the fridge works best. I think the dough needs to age a bit.

      As far as using up the yolks, how about some lemon curd? Also, I often avoid the issue entirely by using Just Whites powdered egg whites. I think that they work even better than fresh for some reason. More expensive, of course, but very convenient. � Thanks for visiting my site and sharing your experience!

  11. Carrie Feinstein Says:

    Laura, I think I used about 1 tsp of pumpkin pie spice but actually think it could use even more. I would try 2 tsp and just whisk in to the flour before you add it to the egg whites. I have been making the 4 egg batch. I found a longer loaf pan at Jacks (upstairs) on W 32nd St in NYC. I also have started using my flexible loaf pan which eliminates the need for the parchment paper. It just pops right out! The 4 egg batch works just fine in my longer pan, seems to be enough batter to spread evenly and nice sized cookies too. I cant wait to try the sesame ones too. I had knee surgery yesterday and am a prisoner on my couch at the moment, otherwise I would be in the kitchen trying them out! Let me know how you substitute the just whites cause I think I actually have some in my cabinet!

    • pragmaticattic Says:

      Thanks Carrie! I can’t wait to try the pumpkin spice . . . I will let you know how they come out and will give more details about the Just Whites. Great tip about thew silicone pan. I wouldn’t have thought to try that. Also interesting that the four white amount works in the longer pan . . . Wishing you a speedy recovery from knee surgery . . .

  12. pragmaticattic Says:

    I made the pumpkin spice and will post about it shortly . . .

  13. Pumpkin Spice Mandelbread Thins with Pumpkin Seeds and Cranberries « Pragmatic Attic Says:

    [...] of Almondina-like biscotti (for a version with apricots, craisins, pistachios, and almonds, see here). This version is flavored with pumpkin pie spices (nutmeg, ginger, cloves, and [...]

  14. Carrie Says:

    Tried your recipe for the pumpkin spice and your spice blend is just right! You added more spice than I had and its much tastier than mine were. Thanks! I just had a strange experience with a batch I just made and wondered if you could figure out what happened. I made a basic batch down here in Florida for my dad who I am here visiting. Made no changes whatsoever to the recipe except that in my haste to finish them, I decided not to refrigerate the loaf overnight. The biscotti came out dry and crumbly and very rough in texture. Still kinda tasty but very different from every other batch I have made. Bizarre. Any helpful hints?

    • pragmaticattic Says:

      Carrie, I’m so glad the pumpkin spice biscotti worked out for you. Did you try adding the craisins? Actually, I think I had the same problem that you did with one of my batches where I left out the raisins that I usually add in. I had a batch where the air bubbles in the batter were very large and the texture was very coarse. The change in texture dramatically affected the taste experience. My hypothesis is that the proper texture hinges on (1) enough flour and (2) enough folding to deflate the meringue just enough to make a dense texture. I think that adding raisins, which often have a bit of oil on them (added in manufacturing to reduce clumping), helps here, too, in compacting down the meringue foam a bit. I Ialso think that using egg white powder helps because I suspect that it makes a more dense meringue. Working with slightly aged or at least room temperature whites might make a difference also. But, here is what I think happened with your batch. Florida is more humid than NY, and–somehow or other–this might have meant that the flour you added was insufficient starch for this batch. Going short on the flour, or having a bit too much moisture in the batter for some other reason might cause a too open crumb to the cookies. Or, maybe beating the whites too quickly and getting in larger air bubbles. Refrigerating the cookies overnight dries the cookiesout also, but, this is after the fact in terms of how open the crumb is. I think the refrigeration mostly helps in terms of slicing. Soooo. . . . (long response, I know), I would make sure to use a full weight of flour, fold thoroughly, add raisins or craisins, and use egg white powder or room temperature egg whites. Hope this helps! Let me know, because I have been trying to solve this mystery, too.

  15. Nina Says:

    Can’t wait to make them!!!! Does anyone have a calorie or other info?? I know they are healthy!! Fat free!! Wonder if I could use Splenda? I am on a restricted diet !! Bless u for sharing.

    • pragmaticattic Says:

      Yes, these are pretty healthy. Not completely fat free because nuts have some fat, but that is healthy fat.

      I don’t know what the exact calorie count is per cookie. What you would have to do to get that is check out the nutritional info on each item in the recipe by weight (approximately 4 ounces each of sugar, flour, nuts, egg whites, and dried fruit), add it all up, and then divide by serving.

      The total weight for all ingredients is 20 ounces, so I would suggest dividing the recipe into twenty 1 ounce servings.

      Using calorielab.com, I came up with a calorie count of 86 calories per ounce, and about 13 grams of carbs per ounce. This does not include the handful of dried cranberries I threw in, just the 4 ounces of apricots.

      How many cookies is that? Well, it depends, but I am guessing that it is at least three cookies (assuming that you bake in a 8″x4″ loaf pan and cut cookies 1/8″ thick). If you use a longer loaf pan, like a pullman loaf pan (13″x4″), and you cut each slice at least as thin as 1/8″, then you could get maybe five cookies per 1 ounce serving.

      What you need is a scale, both to weigh you ingredients before baking and to weigh out a 1 ounce portion of cookies.

      I think the commercial version of this cookie (original flavor, with almonds and raisins) has 4 cookies per 1 ounce serving, at 133 calories and 22 grams of carbs per ounce.

  16. Karen DeMasco’s Chocolate Walnut Biscotti and Oatmeal Raisin Biscotti « Pragmatic Attic Says:

    [...] Another possibility is baking a wet dough like this in a parchment lined loaf pan, like the pullman loaf pan that I use for my Almondina-style biscotti thins. [...]

  17. Mandelbread Thins: Original Flavor « Pragmatic Attic Says:

    [...] have blogged about flavor variations on this recipe (also here), but not the original [...]

  18. debbie gigliotti Says:

    left over egg yolks would be great for the cooked custard gelato…good match…vanilla gelato and biscotti! I have several frozen egg whites from last batch of gelato…hope they work for this, can’t wait to make this recipe! LOVE the originals..quit buying as too expensive for my habit!

  19. sue Says:

    does anyone have any tips for evenly slicing the cold baked cookies? I have a good bread knife, but how to get then nice and even? I too am obsessed with almondinas since Trader Joe’s started carrying the almond/raisin variety. Now I find there are so many more flavors! TJ’s are $2.79 for the original flavor.

  20. Tamara Says:

    When does the dough benefit from refrigeration? Before or after baking?

  21. Tamara Says:

    I’m just about to try to bake this jewel of a cookie!

  22. Lena Says:

    Doesn’t this dough need any baking powder?

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