Sunday, November 9, 2008
Hilary of Nosh With Me tells a lovely family story about her Aunt Helen and this recipe for twice baked cookies called Mandelbrot. They're sort of the Jewish version of biscotti although the texture is generally softer and crumblier (is that's even a word). Kat at A Good Appetite also featured Mandelbrot recently. It's a similar recipe but adds anise to the mix that I'm sure gives it a very distinctive flavour.
Baba (my mother) was never much of a baker but one of the things she used to make was mandelbrot. Literally translated from Yiddish a mandel is an almond (plural it would be mandlen) and brot is bread. Perfect - this recipe has no almonds and doesn't look like bread. It's a cookie and a darned fine one at that. When I saw Hilary's version, well... what can I say - you can already see what happened.
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup oil
3 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 cup chocolate chips
Mix eggs and sugar with a wooden spoon. Add vanilla and mix.
Mix the flour, salt, and baking powder together. Add to the egg mixture, alternating with the oil, four times.
Add chocolate chips and mix. Batter will be stiff. (She’s not kidding, it’s stiff!)
Refrigerate overnight, or at least three hours. (Aunt Helen recommended overnight.)
Roll into four logs, approximately 1 1/2″ in diameter.
Bake at 350 for 35-45 minutes, remove from oven, and immediately slice into 1″ pieces. (Both H's mom and Aunt Helen said it’s very important to not let the logs cool because they will crack when you slice them.)
Place cookies on their side on cookie sheet and bake 10-15 minutes more.
I learned a couple of very important things with this recipe. First of all, Hilary's Aunt Helen was a maven (Yiddish word for someone who really does know it all). I've made recipes simiilar to this in the past and never thought to leave the batter in the fridge overnight. It did make a world of difference. The second thing I learned is do not let the logs cool before you cut them otherwise they'll crack. That's a very important tip. I've had cracked mandelbrot and biscotti before but I can tell you it won't happen again. And the third tip and probably the most important one - go back to basics - use a wooden spoon to mix this with. The texture is so superior to that of using a hand or stand mixer. Go figure. All this modern technology and the simplest way in this case is the best.
Aunt Helen has certainly left one of her legacies in this household.