Call it biscotti, if you want to be fancy about it. Make it with whole pistachios, a splash of orange liqueur. Add coconut. Dip it in dark melted chocolate, if you must. It's all mandlebrot to me.
Mandlebrot (also mandelbroit) translates from Yiddish as almond bread. Jewish biscotti. A staple in my mother's cookie jar, and always on hand in my grandmother's kitchen -- both blessed memories. My grandmother's version was simple yet sublime, the ultimate coffee dunker: baked in small loaves, sliced, then returned to the oven for added crunch. My mother's recipe was sweeter, lighter, the dough thinner, almost batterlike.
I can channel my grandmother's recipe for mandelbrot, and when I follow it, it's out of a jumble of memories: the buttery baking aromas of her kitchen, the fragrance of roses in her summer garden, the cinnamon goodness of her noodle kugel and cheese blintzes ...
My grandmother's Mandelbrot (approximately)
- 3 large eggs
- 1¼ cups sugar
- ¾ cup vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon grated orange rind
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1½ teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup slivered almonds, chopped
- 1 tablespoon sugar mixed with 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon anise seeds (optional)
- Beat eggs, sugar and oil in a large bowl with an electric mixer until blended. Beat in orange rind and vanilla. Sift flour with baking powder and salt into a bowl. Add to egg mixture. Stir on low speed of mixer just until blended. Stir in almonds on low speed.
- Shape dough into four log-shaped rolls, each about 2 inches wide. Place on greased baking sheet. Refrigerate 30 minutes. Use spatula to smooth dough and to push again into log shape if it has spread a bit. Sprinkle top with cinnamon sugar and pat to make it adhere to sides as well. While dough is resting, preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Bake 30 minutes or until lightly browned and set. Transfer carefully to a board and let stand until cool enough to handle. With a sharp knife, carefully cut into diagonal slices about ½-inch thick; dough will be slightly soft inside. Return slices in one layer to 2 or 3 cleaned baking sheets.
- Bake about 7 minutes per side or until lightly toasted so they are beige and dotted in places with golden brown; side of cookie touching baking sheet will brown first. Watch carefully so cookies don't brown throughout or they will be too hard and dry. Cool on a rack. Keep in airtight containers.