Grandma Rae's Chocolate-Almond Mandelbrot
Walking on Walnuts (Bantam - 1997)
Nancy Ring, author of Walking on Walnuts, demonstrated these traditional cookies at her Rosh Hashanah Dessert Workshop. Like Italian biscotti, mandelbrot are twice baked to achieve a pleasant toasted flavor and a definitive crunch.
Approximately 3 dozen cookies
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 eggs
- 3 ounces sliced almonds
- 4 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
To prepare the dough, combine the flour and baking powder and set aside. Cream the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until they are pale yellow and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until each is fully incorporated in the dough. Add the flour and baking powder to the egg mixture, mixing only until the flour is incorporated. Do not overwork the dough. Divide the dough in half. Add almonds to one-half of the dough and chocolate chips to the other half. Refrigerate the dough for several hours or overnight.
Before baking the mandelbrot, preheat the oven to 375ºF. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and wet hands slightly. (Wetting your hands allows you to work with the dough more easily.) Roll each piece of dough into a long, 2-inch-wide log. Place the logs on a parchment-paper-covered, nonstick, or greased sheet pan. To prevent overbaking of the undersides of the logs, place another sheet pan upside down under the one the logs are on. Bake the logs until they are golden in color and firm, but not yet brown, 25 to 35 minutes, turning the pan once during baking to ensure an even color and temperature. Place the sheet pan on a rack and cool the logs for about 10 minutes.
When the logs are still very warm but not so hot that they crumble, carefully cut the logs into slices about 3/4 inch thick, using a very sharp serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion. (Be careful not to use too much pressure when cutting as this will break the logs.) Let these slices cool completely. Bake the sliced mandelbrot again, cut side down, at 375ºF on doubled sheet pans. After 5 minutes of baking, turn the slices over and bake another 5 to 10 minutes, until the slices are light golden and feel slightly firm to the touch. Cool the slices completely on a rack. Store in an airtight container for up to ten days.