christmas cookie redux: mazarin sandbakkelse

Sandbakkelse, or sand tarts, are one of my favorite holiday cookies. Steeped in a tradition that originates from specialty kitchen items used but once a year, sandbakkelse are my way of celebrating my 3/8th Nordic heritage that I know little to nothing about.

Having written about sandbakkelse last year, when my wee bloglet was but a faint glimmer in my mind’s eye, I decided to present, this holiday season, a variation on a theme.

Enter Mazarin Sandbakkelse: a shortbread crust cookie pressed into sandbakkelse molds, and then filled with a luscious and dense almond custard. Baked until golden brown, and then topped with powdered sugar icing, these cookies are the perfect way to ring in the holiday season.

Mazarin, often supplemented by the suffix ‘cake,’ is otherwise known as Mazarintårta, or Mazarin Torte. Swedish in origin, the humble mazarin is apparently named after Cardinal Jules Mazarin (1602-1661), Italian chief minister of France who was also a collector of diamonds and of gambling winnings, and the target for Little Red Riding Hood, first released as a satirical pamphlet. Jiggawha? How did such a man inspire these tasty little cakey delights?

I don’t have the answers, but I do have the cookies.

Feeling filled with good cheer, I made the split-second decision to add a splash of Grand Marnier into my icing. Feeling in even better cheer, I also chose to make a second icing, using up some cherry pie filling that I had leftover from a coffee cake (the sugary filling was leftover, not the cherries; the cherries were used in the coffee cake, not the filling).

Little did I know at the time that a variation on the mazarin theme is the catalan, a mazarin topped with raspberry jam. Without knowing it, I was halfheartedly imitating my ancestry. Oh, except that I’m not Swedish.

These are dense cookies that are very presentable. When make in sandbakkelse molds, they will undoubtedly elicit a compliment or two – after all, that is what those once-a-year specialty kitchen items are for, right? That, and of course, tradition. So in the words of ‘A Christmas Story’, Fa Ra Ra Ra Ra; or, happy holidays !

Mazarin Sandbakkelse {recipe adapted from The Rustad Co.’s Sandbakkelse tin molds; Minnesota, woop woop!}

Makes a superstitiously delicious 13 cookies.

Mazarin Cookie Dough


5 tbsp. butter
1/3 c. powdered sugar
3/4 c. flour
1 egg yolk, slightly beaten
1/2 tsp. baking powder


Cream butter and sugar, mix in egg yolk. Sift flour and baking powder in, and mix well. Chill until butter sets, then quickly line sandbakkelse molds with dough.  Fill with the following:

Almond Filling


3/4 c. ground almonds, or 2 tbsp. almond paste
2 whole eggs, well beaten
1 c. powdered sugar


Mix well. Fill sandbakkelse shells and bake for 15-20 minutes in a 350F oven. Let cool in tins, flipped over on a cooling rack. After cooling, add (if desired):

Grand Marnier & Cherry Icings


1 c. powdered sugar
1 tbsp. milk
1 tbsp. butter
1/2 tsp. Grand Marnier OR 2 tbsp. cherry pie filling (or cherry jam)


Mix well. Heat briefly if needed to melt butter. Apply to tops of mazarin sandbakkelse.


38 thoughts on “christmas cookie redux: mazarin sandbakkelse

  1. Whenever I think of Swedish cooking, I think of my Kirsten American Girls Cookbook. But that didn’t have anything as delicious as these pastry-custard-cookie creations in it! (I’m studiously avoiding all mentions of the dreaded Grand Marnier, I’ll have you know.)

    I hope that making these gave you an afternoon/evening/morning of contentment and bliss, and whisked you away from evil stress month of doom. Almost there, sweetness!

    1. Hannah, I really should try more out of this Kirsten cookbook. Luckily, I have an inkling that any used copies I might find online will be quite affordable.

      Sorry to frighten with the suggestion of Grand Marnier. It’s ridiculous how much I want to use up this bottle and get it out of my cupboard. But it will never be gotten rid of, I’m pretty sure. Martha (below) could attest to how often I’ve tried to hide it in baked goods. But it’s always so apparent. Darn.

      It’s also gotten to the point where we can’t open the bottle, the sugar has crystallized and accrued massive strength. I had to use a vice-grip to open it.

      Yes, an afternoon away from evil stress month. And now five more minutes away from it to leave these comments! Thank you:) xo

      1. Oh, I remember looking for the other cookbooks in the series years and years ago and failing! I wonder if I’d have any luck now…

        Do you know what the crystallised sugar and vice grip are? They’re the universe’s way of trying to tell you to get rid of the bottle. This I know to be true.

        Wait, what’s that? Can you hear that? Something coming?


        NINJA HUG!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        1. Haha!! Aww, a li’l ninjer hug, how sweet.

          It means I can almost admit that a sugary vice grip (which is also how I prefer to think of my arm strength) is perhaps a sign to abandon the GM somewhere along the side of a road. Preferably not next to any water treatment facility – we wouldn’t want to let that thing loose on the public, now would we?

  2. Yum! I do love sandbakkeler (the Norwegian plural). My tins are surely rusting away with tears somewhere hidden in my deep cave of baking accessories. I will visually savor your cookies instead. I like the creative twist with the icings and fillings. As an almond enthusiast, I imagine they’re wonderful! I don’t know how you still have time to post despite the lingering thesis and defense deadlines (do you ever rest :)? I plan to make spignoli tonight-an Italian almond paste cookie with pine nuts. I hope they are as delectable as yours. Kudos!

    1. Martha, this is what I need in life – a Scandinavian guide! Teach my about the old ways, i.e., the correct way of pluralizing cookie names:) The internet is useless at times.

      Resurrect your crying tins! They deserve a bit of love at this time of year. These were delicious, although I may have to break out the tins once more with a more traditional sandbakkelse/sandbakkels/sandbakkelser recipe:)

      I have never made spignoli but have come close several times, the last of which was just last month. It’s just always hard for me to use so many pine nuts in one go. Let me know how they turn out, I bet they’ll be really tasty. And yes of course I rest! I get way more sleep than necessary. Doesn’t mean I’m not nervous about getting my work done, though…. oh well. xo :)

  3. Emma,

    How have I missed Mazarin Sandbakkelse all these years? I love everything about these cuties… shortbread and almond filling…. oh yes please. And your molds are too cute.

    Happy holidays to you!


    1. Erin, perhaps you don’t have a cache of Scandinavian baking implements hiding in a dusty nook? Perhaps you are not Scandinavian? These are my only explanations for how you have missed such iconic sandbakkelse-shaped cookies all these years.

      I am so glad my mum let me take these molds with me to Maine – thanks mum!

      Happy holidays to you to, Erin:)

  4. Well, I’d like to try to make these delectable beauties, but I do not have any tins:-( Oh, well, I am glad that you are using them so wonderfully…love the opening photo, it is as good as any I’ve seen in the fancy food magazines!(and you know who I mean)
    Also, I have a dim memory of an American Girls cookbook appearing at some point, if I come across it, I’ll send it to you…XX

      1. Man are you quick on the draw! Three minutes, and you were pouncing like a shark:)

        I’ll have you know I looked all the AG cookbooks up on Amazon the other night. Muy affordablo!

        1. Ooooh! I know for a fact they weren’t available on Amazon when I was a kid, because I tried to buy them on ebay and failed. (My one and only ebay attempt). Squeeeeee!

    1. Mum, uh oh. I am a thief, but one with a likable face. Although I remember you giving me the tins, albeit begrudgingly and after I had made sad puppy dog eyes and mopey noises. So thanks!

      I bet I wouldn’t have had the Kirsten cookbook…. that’s too much grey hair for a nine-year old girl, I don’t care how frontiersy you are! I would love whatever cookbook we may or may not possess in storage… but can I take that away from you too, when I’ve already taken so much???


      1. You know, it will all be yours eventually anyway, ha ha! If indeed there is a cookbook somewhere, it was undoubtedly a gift to you, so it already belongs to you know who:-)

  5. a shortbread crust cookie pressed into sandbakkelse molds, and then filled with a luscious and dense almond custard
    Woah woah woah! Shortbread + almond custard is the dreamiest thing I’ve ever heard of. Why am I English and a bunch of other random things and not more nordic? I want to eat that! I need to find Sandbakkelse molds or maybe just use cheap mini muffin pans? Is that ghetto, because I think I’m part ghetto.

    1. sarah, now now, the English have terrific gastronomic fare too…. black pudding? Marmite? haggis? tripe? spotted dick and custard?? Their foods definitely seem part ghetto, so I wouldn’t be too surprised at your lineage:)

      You can find Sandbakkelse molds for pretty cheap on ebay… try here to see some options. Cheap mini muffin pans would work too, but wouldn’t you rather accumulate some mostly-unneccesary kitchen items?

  6. You just never know what you will find at a weekend estate sale! Found a bag of tins Saturday and had no earthly idea of their origins other than the previous owners were Swedish. A Scant amount of research lead me to your recipe. Made them tonight for the fam. Delish! Thanks! Fun learning a little bit about traditional Swedish cookies too!

  7. Thanks for putting this recipe on your blog! We made several dozen and they were delicious. Yours is the first recipe we’ve seen which has a baked filling. If you have time, could you post the original Rustad recipe? Your ‘adapted’ one is great, but we’d like to see the original if possible. Thanks!

  8. Hi, I have never had these sandbakkelse, however, they look yummy. I would like to make them for a church luncheon and would like to know if they freeze well. Thank you in advance.

    1. I’ve never frozen them before but I am sure they would freeze just fine. Let me know if they worked out for you!

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