In search of Cleveland's mystery almond cone.
July 6, 2011 3:16 PM   Subscribe

Can you identify the incredible conical, chocolate-dipped almond pastry I ate in Cleveland?

A couple months back I visited Cleveland, Ohio for the first time, and fell in love with the West Side Market, which is everything my local venders' market, Grand Central in downtown L.A., should be but is not. Opposite the crepe shop was one of many Eastern European bakery stands, Michael's. They had in the back of the case a couple of lonely-looking chocolate cones, about 3 inches high, labeled (I'm pretty sure) "Mandel Spindle." Mandel I figured was almond, and while the lady couldn't really explain in English what this was, for $2 I took a chance. Well, "Mandle Spindle," if that is its name, is one of the best pastries I have ever had in my life. The cone was made up of ultra-moist almond cake with some marzipan in it, dipped in a thin coating of dark chocolate, with a heavy white wafer at the base to hold the whole concoction upright. I am now obsessed. I would like to know where in the world this delicacy comes from, if it is available anywhere else in America, and how to make it at home. Google is not helping. Dear green people, can you?
posted by Scram to Food & Drink (11 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
It sounds kind of like the crucanti they sell at Mike's Pastry in Boston's North End. They are usually a bit more pointy than that picture indicates.

Googling 'crucanti' seems to indicate that the name is particular to Mikes. Mikes is Italian pastry, though the staff is actually Croatian, on the other side of the Adriatic.
posted by benito.strauss at 3:37 PM on July 6, 2011

Thw whole 'moist almond cake' think makes me think of amaretti, which is made of ground almonds and egg whites. I've only had plain amaretti, but I'm sure you could stuff it, dip it and stick it on a wafer...
posted by showbiz_liz at 3:39 PM on July 6, 2011

It sounds like you are describing flødeboller, a Danish chocolate-covered pastry that is made of merengue (or in your case, almond meal and merengue, as showbiz_liz observed) on top of a marzipan or a thin wafer.

Here is a recipe. They are delicious.
posted by halogen at 3:48 PM on July 6, 2011

I don't know the cake in question, but I can perhaps help you narrow down its nationality: "mandel" or "Mandel" means "almond" in Danish, Estonian, German, Norwegian and Swedish, while the Czech form is apparently "mandle".
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 4:00 PM on July 6, 2011

Scram's little sister here. I, too, ate this crazy cone of Cleveland. And here is a picture of said cone. All of your suggestions seem similar and wonderful. But, this thing was definitely cakey, not meringue-y and smooth, not bloopy. What is in the Crucanti? That could be it!
posted by gothchick33 at 9:58 PM on July 6, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks for the brainstorming. Like little sister says, this was a cake, not a meringue. There's sugar and almond and probably egg in the mix, but I'd swear there was some flour in there, too. I found a cross section of a Crucanti on this page (scroll down), and the look and description of the almond layers that can be pulled apart is very different. The inside of the Mandel Spindle was uniformly smooth, yellow, creamy and very rich. It was moister and less granular than any marzipan I've ever had, but it could be a marzipan variation. And as the photo above shows, it was smooth, tall and quite conical, not a typical presentation for such a moist treat.
posted by Scram at 10:47 PM on July 6, 2011

Cakey? Then it wasn't a crucanti (crucantus?). But trust me, you'd love crucanti.
posted by benito.strauss at 9:46 AM on July 7, 2011

Response by poster: It's not Mandel Spindle, it's Mandel Splinter! A friend dropped by the market and saw them today.
posted by Scram at 11:25 AM on July 27, 2011

Long shot, so please don't get your hopes up, but could it be a variant on this (photograph here) Czech recipe?

I found a differently usable version of the recipe (clearer list of ingredients; slightly less translatable instructions), but I would recommend visiting it in Firefox with NoScript turned on, as otherwise it plays music. It's here.

The recipe describes (via Google Translate - I speak no Czech) a biscuity base with a lot of ground almonds in it, a creamy cone on top, and a chocolate coating. However, in this case, the cream includes chocolate, which yours obviously didn't, and doesn't include almonds; they're all in the base. It does have a little flour in, though, so its texture might be a bit cakelike.

The name apparently translates as "chocolate spike" or "chocolate apex". And you have no idea how hungry all this recipe-surfing has made me...
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 8:13 AM on July 31, 2011

Response by poster: Nice sleuthing, ManyLeggedCreature! The treat you found looks like it could be a rustic variation on Mandel Splinter, which was distinguished by having very smooth sides and a precise point. The "chocolate cream" filling portion of the recipe is different--the only chocolate in the Mandel Splinter is the coating, and that was dark, not milk.

One more hint from the vendor: the friend who saw them last week also says this was described as a German confection.
posted by Scram at 9:03 AM on July 31, 2011

Hmm. OK, I have one more long shot for you: could "Mandel Splinter" be a play on words indicating that this is an ground-almond-heavy version of a Granatsplitter? "Splitter" is German for "splinter".

It would have to be a significant departure from the usual recipe, though, to come close to what you described. According to that Wikipedia article, a Granatsplitter has a shortbread or waffle base, onto which is piled a four-inch cone of buttercream mixed with rum, cocoa and biscuit crumbs or pieces (or, for home bakers, nuts); it's then dipped or coated in melted chocolate, and left to set. So, Granatsplitters sound gooier than your cake was, and (again) too chocolatey. And instead of the bits that go into a standard Granatsplitter, I think yours would need to have had ground almonds. I did find one photo of a smooth-sided Granatsplitter, so it's not impossible, but I'm still leaning towards this not being the right answer.

Then again, maybe if you mix stiff buttercream with a lot of finely-ground almonds, you get a texture somewhere between cake and marzipan.

I'm all tapped out now, but I really hope you manage to solve your mystery! I'm afraid you might have to go back and pester the staff for answers, though.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 12:03 PM on July 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

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