Many of my memories of Grandma Mary are tied to food. Eating a bowl of cantaloupe cubes on the linoleum floor of her one bedroom apartment in Brooklyn while watching Sesame Street on the television in the carpeted living room a few feet away -- a big treat as we did not get PBS at our home in upstate New York. Tugging on the wishbone (a rookie mistake - I always lost to my older brother) after a roast chicken dinner in her tiny kitchen. The spotless produce drawer in her refrigerator, red and green apples carefully arranged on a clean paper towel. Her salad dressing - an unsophisticated yet tasty mixture of white vinegar, oil, sugar, salt and fresh dill that she served over iceberg lettuce.
|Grandma Mary on a long -ago visit to our home upstate with my big brother (who was in a King Tut phase) and me, looking amazingly like my four-and-a-half-year-old son.|
I've always regretted that she died before I got her recipe. But I was only 15 when she died and had not yet discovered my love of baking and cooking, not to mention that she was no longer lucid enough to share much of anything with us by then.
On a cold, gray day back in February, I was thinking about my Grandma and missing her (and her delicious twice-baked cookies...) So I did a little searching to see if I could find a recipe that sounded like a match.
This recipe, adapted from King Arthur Flour, turned out pretty darn close although I used butter instead of the oil it calls for and I did not have almonds on hand so I used pecans, instead.
Mandelbrot translates to "almond bread" and it is baked twice - first in a long log, then in individual slices sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar. I hope you enjoy this delicious treat - the traditional Jewish version of biscotti.
Chocolate Almond Mandelbrot
Makes 56 cookies
* 3 large eggs
* 1 cup sugar
* 1 cup (7 ounces) vegetable oil
* 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
* 1 tsp sea salt
* 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
* 1 tsp baking powder
* 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
* 1 1/2 cups almond pieces (or walnuts or pecans)
* Coarse white sugar, optional
1. Beat together the eggs, oil, sugar, vanilla, and salt at medium-high speed until thickened and light-colored, about 5 minutes. Beat in the flour and baking powder then mix in the chips and nuts. Cover and refrigerate for 3 hours, or overnight.
2. When you're ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease (or line with parchment) two baking sheets.
3. Divide the dough into four even pieces, about 13 ounces each if you have a scale. Working with one piece at a time, place the dough on the prepared baking sheet, shaping it into an 8" x 2" log. Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough, leaving at least 2" between them; you'll put 2 logs on each baking sheet. Sprinkle the logs heavily with coarse white sugar, if desired.
4. Bake the logs for about 28 to 30 minutes, until they're set and beginning to brown and the edges and sides, but not brown all over. Remove them from the oven, and reduce the oven temperature to 300°F.
5. Spritz the logs lightly with water; this will make them easier to cut. Allow them to cool for 10 minutes. Cut each log into 1/2" to 3/4" slices. Cutting them on the diagonal will make the mandelbrot longer; cutting them crosswise will yield shorter cookies.
6. Place the pieces on edge, quite close together, on the baking sheets, and return them to the oven to bake for an additional 35 to 45 minutes, until a cookie feels baked through when you pinch it between your fingers. You'll also notice some browning around the edges, though the cookie shouldn't be browning all over. Remove from the oven and cool right on the baking sheets.
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