February 26, 2012

Mandelbrot: The Perfect Afternoon Cookie

On winter afternoons I often have a craving for a sweet; not something rich and gooey, but satisfying enough to provide a little energy boost and a feeling of treating myself. Mandelbrot, or almond bread, fits the bill perfectly. They are sweet but not overly so, and are lightly flavored with orange and lemon and studded with almonds. Mandelbrot are the Jewish equivalent of biscotti, another twice baked biscuit, but are a little softer and more chewy. Like biscotti, they keep for a very long time in a covered dish. They freeze well, layered on waxed paper in a covered box or tin, and I love being able to just dip in and pull out a cookie whenever I have a sweets urge.

My recipe comes from Claudia Roden's The Book of Jewish Food; it's easy and delicious.

3 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
grated zest of one lemon
grated zest of one orange
a few drops vanilla
a pinch of salt
1 Tbs baking powder
3 3/4 cups flour
1/2 - 1 cup whole blanched almonds
1 egg yolk for glaze

  • Beat the eggs with the sugar until it's a pale, thick cream
  • Add the oil, lemon and orange zest, vanilla, salt, and baking powder and beat to a light emulsion.
  • Blend in the flour and work in the blanched almonds. 

  • Oiling your hands so they don't stick, form the dough into two long logs, about 3 inches in diameter on either a well oiled or a parchment covered baking sheet. I love using parchment; it makes cleanup so much easier. 
  • Brush with egg yolk and bake in a preheated 350º oven for 30 minutes, or until lightly browned. 

  • Let the cakes cool completely. If you try to cut them when they're still warm, they will break apart. 
  • Cut into diagonal slices about 1/2 inch thick. 
  • Arrange on a baking sheet, cut side up and bake in a preheated 400º oven until lightly browned. 

Makes lots of cookies, so enjoy!


  1. It must be a foodie day. I have read a couple of good recipes today. This one looks yummmy.

  2. A friend of mine always made these for me for Christmas and my birthday. Her mother's family was of German heritage which is where her recipe came from. Actually her mom made them until she was almost 90!

    1. Lucky you, Linda. Of course Jewish European cooking and German overlap considerably.