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Mazarin is a classic Swedish pastry, well known in neighbouring countries as well in lots of variations. It seems that - as one with a bit of historic background may guess - it is of French origin.

Mazarin tarts, cakes or pastries are said to have been named after the French-Italian cardinal and diplomat Jules Mazarin (1602 - 1661), successor of the powerful Cardinal Richelieu.

(Quote from here.)

My wife is running a Finnish bakery where she is baking variations of this cake; however, she couldn't find any more detailed explanation about the origins of this cake and how it is linked to cardinal Mazarin, not even from Swedish sources.

On another forum, I found this:

i just found another referance to MAZARIN in LAROUSSE GASTRONOMIQUE guide , and they say that mazarin is a kind of a genoise cut that is shaped like a cone , covered with PINK fondunt and then inserted back to the genoise form with candied fruits and a little syrop and apricot jam.

Which could fit into the picture, considering Mazarin was born and raised as Giulio Raimondo Mazzarino in Italy (although not in Genova).

Could anyone with a background in French / Italian culinary history shed light on why Cardinal Mazarin's name was given to this cake, as well as how and when it became a favourite in Sweden?

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    Just adding a data point; Mazarin were around in Sweden by 1908 according to a Bonnier magazine from 1908 (on Google books): "vi kardinal Mazarin, hugfäst dels genom de med mandelmassa fyllda, sockerglacerade bakelser, som ännu i dag kallas mazariner". Couldn't see all the text but it corroborates what you have said already. – Chris Steinbach Sep 9 '14 at 9:51
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    Possibly related: The royal cookery book: (le livre de cuisine) from 1869 has a recipe for "Mazarin Cake with Rum". This is a yeast based sponge in two layers with rum syrup between layers. Topped with almond slivers. Also on Google books. – Chris Steinbach Sep 9 '14 at 21:23
  • Just curious OP, did my answer fit your question? I suspect there may be more solid evidence scattered across various antiquated texts, the likes of which are neither easily identified or accessed outside of Swedish, Italian, or French archives- which I (and I suspect most if not all other users) do not have access to. There may be something of use in an online academic archive somewhere, though whether or not it will be in English (assuming that's your language of choice) is another question entirely. Make friends with a polyglot university student! – player3 Sep 20 '14 at 8:30
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+500

Well, it seems that Mazarin's predecessor (and at the time, mentor), Cardinal Richelieu, was instrumental in the creation of the Treaty of Bärwalde, which made Sweden and France steadfast allies (with the French basically funding nearly forty thousand Swedish soldiers). Once Mazarin replaced Richelieu there were already strong diplomatic ties between the two countries. Mazarin was also on amiable terms with Anne of Austria, the queen of France, and as they were both food lovers and promoters (Mazarin in particular worked to spread pasta throughout France) it would make sense that Mazarin, spreading some Italian pastry (perhaps crostata di mandorle?) to Sweden, would end up with the local variant named after him. In short, diplomatic ties brought a new pastry to Sweden, and the Swedes named their version of that pastry after the diplomat in question, Mazarin. I don't have any direct evidence of this happening, but it seems to make sense.

Sources:
http://www.cmariec.com/?p=9157
http://acuriouslittleblog.blogspot.com/2013/10/cardinal-mazarin.html
http://samples.sainsburysebooks.co.uk/9781134741274_sample_496911.pdf
My friend's mother is a Swedish baker and knew Mazarin was some sort of diplomat with ties to Sweden

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