Mandelbread or “almond bread” is the Jewish version of Italian biscotti. Like biscotti, mandelbrot is twice-baked, but unlike biscotti, mandelbrot is more cakey. When well-made, I enjoy both. When my sister and I were in our teens, our mother would buy mandelbrot from a bakery in a traditionally Jewish suburb of Chicago. Since we lived in the city, this wasn’t a trip that she often made so when she would buy mandelbrot, it would be boxed up, tied with string and stocked in our freezer. My sister and I thought we were very clever and had figured out a way to somehow wiggle our fingers into the box without removing the string, while we grabbed a yummy slice. We got so good at this trick that we kept going back for more and more. Unfortunately, when my mother went to actually serve the mandelbrot, the box was magically empty! Try these with a cup of coffee or a glass of milk or sweet wine. Get creative and use pistachios and dried cherries instead of almonds and chocolate. Just be sure to make enough! These keep for a very long time in a cookie tin.
Mandelbread from The Book of Jewish Food by Claudia Roden and tweaked by me
Yield: About 4 dozen
3 large eggs
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup Canola oil
Grated zest of one large navel orange (or lemon if you prefer)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon espresso powder (optional)
3.75 cups of unbleached all-purpose flour
Generous 1/2 cup whole raw almonds, toasted for about 12 minutes in a 350 degree F oven and allowed to cool
Generous 1/2 cup mini bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate morsels
1 large egg yolk mixed with 2 teaspoons of cream or non-dairy milk (I like vanilla soy but any creamy non-dairy milk will do)
Granulated or course-grained sugar for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- In a standing mixer, beat the eggs with the sugar until pale and thickened. Add the oil, zest and vanilla and beat until well mixed.
- Using a whisk or fork, mix together the flour, baking powder, espresso powder (if used) and salt. Slowly beat the mixture into the eggs, scraping the bowl as necessary. Then add in the cooled almonds and chocolate morsels and mix through by hand. With lightly oiled hands, shape the dough into 2 long slim logs with slightly flattened tops and place the on a baking sheet lined with a Silpat or parchment paper. They should be several inches apart since they will spread some. Brush each log well with the egg yolk mixture and sprinkle with the additional sugar. I have also used a mixture of cinnamon and sugar at times.
- Bake for about 30 minutes or until lightly browned. Allow the cakes to cool for about 15 minutes. In the meantime, raise the temperature of the oven to 400 degrees F. Once the logs have cooled enough to easily handle them, slice each log on an angle into 1-inch pieces. I used a long, serrated bread knife for this. Lay the pieces down flat back onto the parchment or Silpat. They will no longer spread so they can be pretty close together.
- Return the baking sheet to the 400 degree F. oven and bake for about 10 minutes more or until lightly browned. There is no need to turn the slices over. Cool completely and enjoy them right away or store them in a tin if you have will-power.