Mandelbrot (hold the mandel, add the chocolate)

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Boy, these cookies sure look like biscotti, don’t they? And they’re baked just like biscotti. And they taste… just like biscotti.

Fooled you! They’re mandelbrot.

A cookie by any other name would taste as sweet?

Mandelbrot—literally, almond bread—is the eastern European version of Italy’s biscotti. Crunchy, light, packed with almonds (traditionally) or with the add-ins of your choice (I chose chocolate, as always, plus walnuts), these cookies are fancy enough to qualify as beyond-everyday, yet easy enough not to tax your brain nor your baking skills.

Since they’re made with oil rather than butter, mandelbrot are non-dairy, and thus appropriate for Jewish holiday meals that include meat. (I’m gradually learning the rules… go easy on me, please!) I realize these aren’t traditional mandelbrot (remember, no almonds); but let’s just call them an Americanized version.

And let’s call them delicious, too. Because that’s surely what they are.

Since tomorrow is Rosh Hashanah, let’s get on the stick here and make mandelbrot—chocolate chip and walnut version. For the traditional version, substitute almonds for both the chips and walnuts.

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First, combine eggs, vegetable oil (we use safflower here in the test kitchen; it has a very neutral flavor), sugar, salt, and vanilla (it’s hidden under the sugar) in a mixing bowl.

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Beat till well combined.

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Then continue beating for about 5 minutes, till the mixture is lighter in texture and lemon-colored.

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Add the baking powder and flour (King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose, of course, my best friend in the kitchen)…

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…and beat gently till well combined.

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Stir in the chips and nuts.

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Cover with plastic, and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or overnight.

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Divide the chilled dough into four equal pieces; a scale makes this task easy and accurate.

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Shape each piece into a rough log about 8” long, and place on two lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet, two logs to a sheet.

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Use your wet fingers to pat/smooth the logs till they’re about 8” x 2” x 1” tall.

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A sprinkling of coarse white sugar is always a plus!

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Bake the logs in a 350°F oven for 30 to 35 minutes, until they’re very lightly browned around the edges—like this. Turn the oven heat down to 300°F.

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Remove from the oven, and spritz lightly with water; this will soften the logs’ crust just a bit, making them easier to slice. Let the logs cool for 10 minutes before slicing.

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Use a serrated knife to gently slice logs into 1/2” slices diagonally…

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…or crosswise. Crosswise, you’ll get slightly shorter cookies, and slightly more of them. Be sure to cut straight up and down, so the mandelbrot can stand on their edges without wobbling.

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Like this. Put them back on the baking sheets; they can be fairly close together. You won’t be able to cram them all on one sheet; you’ll have to use two.

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Now you’re going to bake them again. And you’ll need to use some judgment. The mandelbrot (above) aren’t done; they’re still soft. See how they’re not browned at all?

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Now look at the little mandelbrot on the right. It’s brown all over; it’s a bit too brown.

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These two mandelbrot are both fine. The one on the bottom is a bit more browned than the one on the top.

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And here they are,  ready to enjoy. YUM!

Read, review, and rate (please!) our recipe for Chocolate Chip-Walnut Mandelbrot.

Buy vs. Bake

Buy: Nonni’s Biscotti Cioccolati, almond biscotti dipped in chocolate, 52¢/ounce

Bake at home: Chocolate Chip Walnut Mandelbrot, 16¢/ounce

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel was born in Wisconsin, grew up in New England, and graduated from Brown University. She was a journalist in Massachusetts and Maine before joining the King Arthur Flour Company in 1990, where she's been ever since. Author or co-author of three King Arthur ...

comments

  1. Nicole Shugars

    PJ — Looks great as always…will have to try. A question on another front. Do you take suggestions for your blogs? I have had limited success with the silky buttercream frosting (the one made with the meringue)…it would be SOOO helpful to have someone with your talents lay it out step by step with pictures. Just a thought…

    Sounds like it needs to go in our kingarthurflour.com/tips section, Nicole. I’ll pass it along to the “tip-meisters.” Thanks for the suggestion. – PJH

    Reply
  2. Collette

    Okay, a question I’m not sure about. Isn’t chocolate considered dairy? So, like you said, if you wanted to go traditional with almonds only, you’d be okay but you couldn’t use chocolate and eat these with a meat dinner. I’m really not sure–someone with a much better grasp of kosher dietary laws than me would have to comment. But whatever they are, they look delicious!

    Perhaps milk chocolate would be dairy, but semisweet and bittersweet have no dairy products… so I’d say these are OK. – PJH

    Reply
  3. Mike T.

    The key to the chocolate is to look on the package for the word “Parve”. This appears on Kosher food that is neither meat nor dairy and can be used with either. If it doesn’t appear on the packaging, it does not necessarily mean that it has dairy in it, it could be non-Kosher, in which case you can’t use it anyway. ;-)

    Hope that helps…

    Reply
  4. Ginger

    I am a huge biscotti fan so I know even before baking these that I am going to love them. I have a new Electrolux double wall convection oven being installed at my house as I write this note. This may be my first baking experience in my new oven!

    I will let you know how they turn out. I am a Southern Baptist girl but find Kosher cooking interesting.

    Reply
  5. Tammy

    I love, love mandelbrot, haven’t had it since I was a little girl. My favorite was chocolate with nuts and candied cherries. Thank you for this reminder, I’m so glad I found this blog.

    Reply
  6. LaRiena

    am I missing something? is there a list of how much I should add of each ingredient? these look great but I’m not sure how much flower, egg, sugar etc to add. thanks!
    lr
    If you scroll down through the blog until just before you get to the cost comparisons, you will find a link to click on to see the recipe. We will have to work on it to make it more visible. Mary @ King Arthur Flour

    It’s also a link right before the photos start. I’m not sure how to make it more visible – LeRiena, do you have any suggestions? – PJH

    Reply
  7. Susan

    Hi,

    I was curious to compare your recipe with my grandmothers recipe. The main difference is hers has orange juice in it (though not a lot). My ingredient list is 1/2 C walnuts, 2 eggs, 1/2 C sugar, 1/2 C oil, 1/4 C OJ, flour until the right consistency (approx 3 cups but she never measured it, and I don’t either), and baking powder. As with yours they are double baked. Although yours looks delicious I think I’ll always make hers – when I do it’s like she’s in the kitchen with me and the taste of the cookies always takes me back as well. I learned to make the cookies when I was a young teenager but have eaten them all of my life. She brought the recipe with her from eastern Europe around 1910. Whenever we went to visit her and my grandfather, the first thing my brothers and sister and I did after saying hello was to check the oven. Either these cookies or Mun cookies (poppy seed cookies) were always in there. They both remain my very favorite cookies.

    Susan, that’s how it should be – you’re carrying forward a long family tradition. Nothing better than that. Tell me, what did she add to them? Was it almonds? – PJH

    Reply
  8. Susan

    PJ- there are just the ingredients I mentioned. She used walnuts instead of almonds though we still called it “mundel bread” a mixture of yiddish and english (or we mispronounced mundelbrot). The poppy seed cookies were mun cookies, definitely a mixture of yiddish and english. I was taught to slice the the mundel bread crosswise as you did and to double bake them as well. No spraying with water though. You know come to think of it I’m not sure I’ve ever had the mundel bread with almonds, though I knew the meaning of the word.

    Reply
  9. Susan

    I, too, always make my grandmother’s mandelbread. Hers were the best, according to our family lore. She used only almonds — ground coarsely — and topped the cookies with a layer of cinnamon-sugar before the second baking.
    They are delicate, not sturdy like a biscotti would be, and very crumbly. The original recipe calls for margarine and oil (!) and since I do not keep a kosher kitchen I substitute butter for the margarine, as she did when she wasn’t going to be serving these with a meat meal.
    This is making me crave these cookies. I will have to make them to honor my grandmother for Yom Kippur!
    Thanks.
    Susan

    Reply
  10. Rebbetzin Michal

    As an orthodox Jew I am always making traditional foods. Although I already have 2 recipes that I enjoy for mandelbroit I am happy to try this third for the Sabbath meal. One of my recipes calls for almond paste, the other chopped almonds. When making these for Rosh HaShanna we would definately stick with the original almond version. Completely NOT related in any way to the Kosher Laws, it is a traditon not to eat walnuts on RH as the numerical value of the hebrew letters for walnut is equal to the numerical value of the hebrew for sin. The High Holy days are a time for repentence and symbolic foods have a certain reality such as the apple dipped in honey for a sweet new year. What an interesting comment. I love finding out about different traditions and why they have become tradtions. Thank you for sharing that. Mary @ King Arthur Flour

    Reply
  11. susan

    happened on this site, and have been looking for recipe for Zweibach, (a.k.a. twice-baked), since the commercially made Zweibach seems to have disappeared ….and my grandson is teething~! Hello Susan – I did a search on line and think I have found just what you are looking for. This recipe has cinnamon and nutmeg and uses active dry yeast. If you are using instant yeast, disregard the step of hydrating the yeast in some warm milk. Just blend the instant yeast with your dry ingredients.
    http://www.recipezaar.com/156724
    Enjoy the teething stage! Elisabeth @ The Baker’s Store

    Reply
  12. Gale Reeves

    for the suggestion box:

    Immediately after the recipe name at the top of the blog posting, if you state something like, “click here for recipe/formula”, and activate those works as the link to the recipe, it would be more visible.

    After reading the blog daily, I’ve learned where to look for the recipe link. But, if one is new to the blog…well..the link is hard to see.
    I love reading the blog.
    The pictures are sooooooo helpful.
    thanks

    Reply
  13. Gina

    Wouldn’t this be chocolate chip WALNUSSbrot? And with all that oil and the symbolically-sinful walnuts, this is perfect for Hanukkah! I just made a double batch to send out as gifts. They are also sturdy and travel well. Just an idea…

    Indeed, walnussbrot… I don’t dare toy with tradition, Gina! Great idea, making them for hanukkah – stay tuned for my post on oven-baked latkes (YES they’re just as sinful as fried in a skillet, just less work!) -PJH

    Reply
  14. Mary

    This sounds so good. I haven’t made mandelbrot for years but have been craving it lately. Walnuts may be numerically sinful, but they are good for your heart, so what can you do?

    Mandelbrot is one of those treats where the ingredients match the state of your bank account. I have somewhere a recipe which calls for almond extract – but no almonds. Tasty, but so much nicer when you can afford the real thing.

    Mandelbrot, biscotti, zwieback – there’s a reason each culture seems to have their version of this cookie. They’re just so GOOD. PJH

    Reply
  15. ML

    Rebbetzin Michal, hope you are still reading this blog. I don’t keep kosher but have always been interested in the numerology connected with Judaism. I don’t eat walnuts (allergic) but love pecans. How do pecans add up??? Would they be kosher for Rosh Hasonah?
    PJH–I very much appreciate the fact that you are learning about kosher cooking. I was born Jewish but not raised in a kosher home. I’m always learning something new as you are. I have not tried your latke recipe but like that it is baked in the oil (using less) than frying in it. Keep up the good work.

    Thank you – I have lots of help here from my Web teammates who are accomplished Jewish cooks/bakers. Enjoy the latkes- PJH

    Reply
  16. Edna Schrank

    They say you learn something new everyday. I was raised in a kosher home and continue to do so as a very seasoned adult, I have never heard of not eating walnuts on Rosh Hashanah. I make my mandlebread, my late mother’s secret recipe, with walnuts all the time.
    I noticed that you use the coarse white sugar on the top, but unfortunately, I ordered it for the Apple Harvest Challah and since it is made in equipment that makes dairy it can not be used for a parve food item. Kosher Parve must be marked to be sure. One of the national chain specialty grocery stores makes the best parve chocolate chips. I now use them exclusively.
    Thanks for the great recipes and information.

    Reply
  17. Andrea Bowker

    I have been baking these mandelbrot ever since the recipe was published here – once trying them with almonds and cinnamon flav-r-bites (a wonderful product I have not quite been able to work into my baking as yet). I now make them with pecans instead of walnuts. The last time, however, I accidentally made them with white whole wheat flour (not reading my canisters carefully enough!). It took me a long time to figure out why they tasted so different, but on the whole the resulting denser biscuit was even better than the original. It stands up even more forcefully to the espresso it always gets dipped into. Just a thought!

    Reply
  18. Susan

    Instead of using coarse sprinkling sugar on top, I usually use cinnamon-sugar with very tasty results. I also usually only put in the chocolate chips and omit the nuts, but I’m thinking almonds and dried cherries would be tasty additions to the chocolate chips.

    Almonds and dried cherries and chocolate chips, Susan? Hear, hear! PJH

    Reply
  19. Emma

    This recipe looks amazing! I’ve always wanted to try making biscotti but I thought it was really complicated. You’ve given me motivation with your beautiful pictures of chocolate chip filled mandelbrot. I’ll be making these for sure!

    Go for it, Emma – you can do it! :) PJH

    Reply
  20. Carole McFadden

    Love this blog! and recipes. Where can I find Sparkling coarse white sugar? The Sparkling Cranberry Gems call for it and I need it for a cookie exchange this Monday evening. Help! Is this something I should have ordered from KAF with my order last week? If so, would Organic Raw sugar work in its place as a substitute this time?

    Yup, too late to order from us now – even though we’re really fast, we’re not that fast! But just get the coarsest sugar you can find – which probably is the organic raw sugar. Turbinado, Demerara, anything like that. Don’t worry, they won’t be as pretty, but still taste fine. Good luck – PJH

    Reply
  21. pgdcooksgarden

    Can you please explain when to use baking powder vs. baking soda? Some very similar recipes from different authors will use only one or both leaveners. In this Mandlebrot recipe baking powder is used and then the dough is refrigerated for 3 hours or overnight. Doesn’t this take the power out of the baking powder? Thanks, Priscilla

    Hi Priscilla – Very generally speaking, baking soda is used when there’s a significant presence of acidic ingredients: yogurt/buttermilk/sour cream; brown sugar; natural cocoa, or other acidic ingredients. This is because baking soda is a base, and needs an acid (plus liquid) to spark its reaction. Baking powder, on the other hand, includes both acid and base; and needs just liquid to get it going. Double-acting baking powder, which is what we all use, needs both liquid and heat; thus it’s fine to store batters or doughs with baking powder for awhile without baking, as they’ll react first to the liquid, then to the oven heat – that’s why they’re called double-acting. Hope this helps – PJH

    Reply

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