Every time I hop a plane to Texas, I have to make a trip to Sahadi’s first. My whole family has become obsessed with their coffee, and if I were to show up empty-handed, I know they might be a tiny bit disappointed. So I go to their wall of coffee, get a pound each of five different varieties, and make my way to the register. But if you’ve ever been to Sahadi’s, you know that it’s almost impossible to leave with just one thing. There’s the fresh hummus, the candy counter, and the cheese room to investigate! (Yes, there really is an entire room of cheese. Yes, it’s as glorious as it sounds.)
Near the register, you’ll find every high-end chocolate bar you can possibly imagine, and a hundred different pieces of marzipan, shaped and painted like little pieces of fruit. On a trip to Texas a few years ago, I picked up a couple of pieces for my older sister, Emily (“Mimi”/E1), and now I can’t visit my home state without a few in my carry-on.
You see, Mimi looooooves marzipan. Loves it. When I walk into her kitchen and unload my Sahadi’s haul, she lights right up when I break out a few fruit-shaped confections just for her. While she can certainly buy marzipan in Austin, she says that the stuff I buy at the little store on Atlantic Avenue is the softest she’s ever had. She goes crazy for it! And if five pieces of sweetened almond paste are what it takes to brighten my big sister’s day, then I’ll keep bringing it forever.
Mimi’s birthday is tomorrow, and I know she’d be happy to receive a box of Sahadi’s marzipan, but I’m a baker. And I’m her sister. When I was thinking about what to send her earlier in the week, I couldn’t imagine just sending her a box of candy.
But what on earth do I get for the sister who used to balance me on top of her feet and half-torture me until I said she was my hero (and she really was)? Who once found a camcorder someone left at our house after a party, and her first idea was not to call the owner*, but to dress up as Stevie Nicks and lip sync to Fleetwood Mac with our little sister, Eliot, and me? Who returns every phone call and listens to me figure out my life when I’m going through a rough time? Who has loved me no matter what for the last thirty years? Well, I didn’t get her anything, but I made her favorite confection into some amazing cookies, and shipped three dozen to Austin.
*Don’t worry, the owner got it back. We never got a review of our performance, however.
These cookies are a marzipan lover’s dream! A full 3/4 cup of the good stuff is creamed into the dough. Add to that a touch of almond extract and some sliced almonds pressed onto the tops, and you have the best sweet almond cookies ever!
The texture is a perfect combination of a good, chewy sugar cookie and the velvety magic that is marzipan. The almonds on top get a little toasty, and the centers stay a little underbaked. These cookies are like biting into pure marzipan! They’re not shaped and painted like fruit, but they’re so good, they don’t need that kind of adornment.
Make these for the marzipan fan (marzifan?) in your life. They’re guaranteed to brighten their day.
And to the one in mine: happy birthday, Mimi! I love you. Enjoy your cookies 😊🎉
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
12 tablespoons (3/4 cup) canned marzipan*
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, divided, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
2 teaspoons water
1/2 cup sliced almonds
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
In a separate large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to cream softened butter and marzipan until evenly combined. Beat in granulated sugar, followed by one egg and egg yolk (reserve the spare white). Mix in vanilla and almond extracts. Add dry ingredients in three installments, beating to combine. Cover dough and chill in the refrigerator for one hour.
Preheat the oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone baking mats. Whisk reserved egg white and water with a fork, just until combined.
Scoop dough by the tablespoon, roll into balls, and place at least 2 inches apart on prepared pans. Lightly brush the tops of the dough balls with egg white wash. Press sliced almonds onto the tops of each dough ball. Bake cookies 8-9 minutes, until no longer raw-looking and starting to turn golden in places. Let cookies cool on pan for five minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely.
Cookies keep covered at room temperature for up to a week.
I use Love ‘N Bake Marzipan. I find it on the baking aisle, usually near the bottom shelf.