Sarah Bernhardt Cookies

December 8th, 2014

Christmas Cookies 14 2

I made a new cookie for the holidays this year.  The minute I received my copy of  A Kitchen in France by Mimi Thorisson, I knew that the Sarah Bernhardt cookies would be on my Christmas table.  Sarah Bernhardt cookies or cakes, as they are sometimes called, originated in Copenhagan Denmark in 1911 where a local chef made them for the French actress when she traveled there to promote the publication of her memoirs.  She was purported to have loved them.  Mimi Thorisson shared that she learned to make them from her Icelandic Mother-in-law.  They have now become a Christmas tradition in her household.  I can see why.

Christmas Cookies 14 3

They start with a meringue made from egg whites, confectioners’ sugar and almond flour.  I had to experiment with how large to make these and whether to use two spoons to form them or pipe them through a pastry bag.  I would recommend the bag.  It was much easier to handle the sticky dough that way.  After the meringues have cooled and put in the freezer for a short chill, they are frosted with a coffee and chocolate infused mixture.

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After the frosted meringues go back into the freezer to chill, they are then dipped in melted dark chocolate.  Even though there are a lot of steps to making them, Sarah Bernhardt cookies are well worth the time.  They are a mouthful of crisp meringue, soft frosting and rich dark chocolate.  I think it will take me some time to perfect this cookie.  For instance, I frosted the rounded side and dipped that in chocolate so that the flat bottoms would be stable.  The pictures I have seen were rounder because the frosting was piled on the flat side and then dipped in chocolate.  They are even more beautiful garnished with candied violets as I saw on one post.

Christmas Table 1

I am well on my way to completing my cookie baking.  So far I have made Mexican wedding cookies,  Chocolate and Pecan Shortbread Bars,  and the Sarah Bernhardt cookies.  This year I am wrapping my cookies in clear plastic bags tied with red ribbons.

Christmas Cookies 14 1

I hope you will find the time to make these delicious cookies.  They are worth a relaxing moment and maybe a sigh of satisfaction with a cup of tea or coffee.


Makes 40 to 50 individual cookies depending on size

For the Meringues:
4 large egg whites
2 1/3 cups confectioners sugar, sifted
2 cups almond flour

For the Frosting:
2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 large egg yolks ( I used pasteurized eggs because the eggs are not cooked)
3 tablespoons instant coffee powder, dissolved in 1 1/2 tablespoons hot water and cooled
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

11 ounces good dark chocolate, chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Make the meringue.  Whip the egg whites in a large bowl with an electric mixer on high speed until frothey.  Gradually add the sugar, 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time, and continue whipping until the egg whites form stiff peaks, about 10 minutes.  Gently fold in the almond flour.  Using two spoons or a pastry bag fitted with a large plain tip, spoon or pipe the egg whites onto the parchment-lined baking sheets.  The meringues should be 1 1/2 to 2 inches wide and 1/3 to 1/2 inch high.

Bake until crisp, 10 to 12 minutes.  Let cool on the baking sheets for 8 to 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.  Transfer the cooled meringues to a plate, cover with plastic wrap, and freeze while you make the frosting.

Make the frosting.  With a wooden spoon, in a medium bowl, mix the sugar with the butter until smooth.  Whisk the egg yolks in another medium bowl until pale and thick, then gradually stir into the butter mixture.  Pour in the dissolved coffee, add the cocoa powder, and mix until the frosting is smooth and thick.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate to firm up a bit, 20 to 30 minutes.

Remove the meringues from the freezer.  Use a spoon or a palette knife to spread about 1 1/2 teaspoon frosting over the bottom of each meringue.  Return to the freezer frosting side up for 15 minutes to harden.

Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl.  Bring an inch or two of water to a simmer in a saucepan, put the bowl on top, and melt the chocolate, stirring occasionally, about 3 minutes ( You can use the microwave if your prefer.)  Remove from the heat.  The chocolate should be just warm to the touch; if it is warmer, let it cool a bit.

Dip the frosted side of each meringue in the melted chocolate so the frosting is entirely covered.  Let set on a large piece of parchment paper.

Line a large container with parchment paper and arrange the meringues in it, layering them between sheets of parchment.  Cover the paper and close the lid tightly.  The meringues will keep in the freezer for up to a month.

Printable Recipe

13 responses to “Sarah Bernhardt Cookies”

  1. Catherine says:

    They certainly sound delicious and would be welcome at the holiday table. xo Catherine

  2. Arlene says:

    These cookies brought back memories of the one and only time I made them. Someone had brought me some from a bakery and I determined to make them. I did, but at great cost, mental and economic. Mine never looked as pretty as the bakery ones, though they tasted wonderful. I may try them again for Valentine’s Day.

  3. These sound like a real treat and welcome everywhere. I love your “Ina-like” gift bags. Where did you find them? They really make a classy gift.

  4. Madonna says:

    Penny, The ingredients sound like a macron without the tediousness. I have been practicing with a pastry bag this year. This sounds like another chance to put “my skills” to use.

    I think I could use some of the cellophane bags for little gifts throughout the year. I wouldn’t have to worry about my containers coming back to me.

  5. Monique says:

    Sounds like you are enjoying that book to it’s fullest..These sound delicious..
    I see a blue pool too:) Makes me miss Fl as we have a weather storm watch for tomorrow!

  6. Penny @ The Comforts of Home says:

    These sounds so good Penny!

  7. cheri says:

    Hi Penny, I have been eyeballing this cookbook, will put it on my list. These cookies sound amazing!

  8. Barbara says:

    Those look fabulous, Penny. I’m sure hoping to find that book under the tree!
    I’m always amazed at the variety of baking necessities King Arthur flour carries….will look into those cute bags for the future. Already have a couple things I want to order from them.

  9. Susan says:

    Another great recipe from the book that I need to try! So far, I’ve just started baking cookies and have one batch of my candy cane cookies made for my grandsons. These definitely look worth the time!

  10. I’ll have to save this recipe for next Christmas…time is escaping me this year but I do know I would enjoy these cookies.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Wow! Totally awesome recipes! Enjoy
    Your time inFlorida…just returned this week
    from Ft.Myers and Palm Island, out of Englewood. Bradford’s are out here in LL, weather is warm one day, in low 40’s the next. Is Larry still in Florida? Look forward to seeing you soon, Darley

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