Mandelbrot is sometimes referred to as Jewish biscotti, but while similarly shaped and twice baked like biscotti, it has its own unique characteristics. Mandelbrot translates from Yiddish as “almond bread” and is a traditional cookie of Ashkenazi Jews. There is very little know about its historic origins but it has been speculated that Jews from Northern Italy brought the biscotti to German Jews and the recipe evolved over time to today’s treat. I had mandelbrot well before the pre-Starbucks espresso craze of the early ’90s introduced suburban America to the biscotti. I remember trying a biscotti for the first time and finding it virtually inedible unless it had been soaked in your coffee. Expecting the softer, crumbly texture of a mandelbrot I almost destroyed my not yet paid off orthodontia biting down on a dry biscotti at my local “italian cafe” the Coffee Roast Express. I’ve rarely eaten them since. My husband’s Grandma Tina used to make mandelbrot every year for Hanukkah and he always looked forward to them. It makes for a nice, not too sweet after dinner treat with coffee or tea. While chopped or slivered almonds are essential, most modern recipes omit almond meal (ground almonds). I suspect it was either hard to come by or expensive, but the exploding “gluten-free” baking trend seems to have made it more readily available. I found a 1lb package at Trader Joes for $2.99. (BTW- never ever try to feed me gluten -free anything that really should have gluten in it. I will throw it at you) The almond meal really creates a nice texture. I also have been having a pretty strong sweet tooth this past week so I made this batch with mini chocolate chips.
Recipe after the jump ….
- 3 1/4 C. all purpose flour
- 1 C. almond meal (ground almonds)
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 3 eggs
- 1 1/4 sugar
- 3/4 C. veg. oil
- zest of 1 lemon
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 tsp. almond extract
- 1 C. chopped or slivered almonds
- 1 C. mini chocolate chips (optional, but definitely use the mini ones, as full size chips are hard to incorporate into the dough)
- Preheat Oven to 350°F. Grease a baking sheet or line with a baking mat.
- In a medium bowl mix together flour, salt, almond meal, baking powder and salt.
- Using and electric mixer or stand mixer, beat together eggs and sugar, then beat in oil, lemon zest and extracts.
- Slowly add the flour mixture until well blended, then mix in almond pieces and the optional chocolate chips (the dough will be stiff and sticky)
- Scape dough out of bowl onto a floured work surface. Separate into two pieces and form into long flat loafs about 3 inches wide. Place on baking sheets and bake for 35-40 minutes until loaves are firm but not hard.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool for about 15 minutes. When cool cut loaves into 1 inch diagonal slices. Be careful not the break or crush the loaves.
- Lay the slices on their side on the baking sheet and return to the oven. Bake for about 7-10 minutes each side until the cookies are golden brown. Cool completely.
Just a little side tip … If you don’t have wire cooling racks, cut open a paper grocery bag and lay it out on your counter for a cheap way to cool cookies. The paper helps absorb any grease and keep the bottom of the cookies crisp and in Oakland you can then throw the paper into the green waste bin for composting.