Monday, March 23, 2015

Passover Chocolate Chip Mandel Bread (Jewish Biscotti Cookies)

Passover Chocolate Chip Mandel Bread

Mandel bread or mandlebrot (the word mandel is Yiddish for nut or almond) is a traditional Eastern European Jewish delicacy. Baked as a loaf and then sliced, the texture is slightly softer than Italian biscotti (which I love) but there are certainly similarities. Although my parents are Eastern European, sadly my mother's baking repertoire did not include these cookies. The only ones I'd ever tasted were the packaged ones from the store and I'd just as soon pass on those, thankyouverymuch.

Passover Chocolate Chip Mandel Bread
The first time Brian brought me home to meet his family was for a Passover dinner and his mother, Doreen, served mandel bread for dessert. I was surprised because they're typically made with flour and she kept a traditional, flour-free Passover home. But I'm not observant and her homemade version was beyond delicious. I was instantly hooked and asked her for the recipe. Turns out she used matzo cake meal and potato starch which made these cookies perfectly appropriate for Passover. I couldn't detect it in the taste so all I knew was that they were perfectly delicious.

Passover Chocolate Chip Mandel Bread
I made such a fuss over them that she generously made sure to bake them for every family gathering.  I was grateful and I always looked forward to holidays at her house, not just for my beloved cookies, but for all the warmth and welcoming and giant feast prepared with love. The amount of work she put into those gatherings was quite remarkable. But the part that always touched me most was after each dinner, when her two grown, big, tall sons expertly cleared the table, washed up and put everything away for their mother.

Passover Chocolate Chip Mandel Bread
She raised three children and worked a full time job at a decade when most women stayed home. She put herself through college and graduate school to become a school administrator while still maintaining a home and children. And clearly she taught her boys that helping their mother was something boys do. Bravo for that, Doreen.

Since Passover is coming up, I dug out the recipe she hand wrote and gave to me and made her excellent mandel bread. And I still love it as much as I did the first time I tasted it. Enjoy!

Passover Chocolate Chip Mandel Bread
by Hungry Couple
Prep Time: 20 Minutes
Cook Time: 45 Minutes
Ingredients (24 Cookies)
  • 2 Cups sugar
  • 2 Sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 6 Eggs
  • 2 3/4 Cups matzo cake meal *
  • 1 Teaspoon salt (original recipe calls for 1/2 teaspoon)
  • 3/4 Cup potato starch *
  • 1 Cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 Cup sliced almonds, or your favorite nuts
  • 1 Teaspoon cinnamon, for topping
  • 2 Teaspoons sugar, for topping
* Available in the ethnic or Passover food aisle of the supermarket

Passover Chocolate Chip Mandel Bread
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Using either a stand or hand mixer, cream the sugar and butter together in a large bowl. Beat in the eggs, one at a time.

In a separate bowl, sift together the cake meal, salt and potato starch and fold into the egg mixture. Stir in the chocolate chips and nuts.

Divide the dough in half and form two loaves, approximately 2-3" high on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. The loaves will neither rise nor spread in the oven but I did find them very sticky to work with so I used a bit of extra cake meal on my hands to pat them into shape.

Combine the cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl and sprinkle evenly over the two loaves. Bake for 45 minutes. Allow to cool slightly but slice, with a serrated knife, while still warm.

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  1. I've never tried mandel bread before.. but I assume from it's looks that it's similar to biscotti? In any event I bet it is delicious!

  2. These look divine. I'm excited to try a great Passover cookie recipe. 2 questions: 1) so these are not baked twice like traditional mandelbrot? Aren't they usually baked a second time after they are sliced? 2) Did you or your mother-in-law ever make these ahead and freeze them? Thanks so much, Dana @ Foodie Goes Healthy

    1. You're correct that she does not do the second baking. If you like, you can return these to the oven for about 10 minutes after they're sliced but I like them best like this. They're crunchy but not quite as hard as biscotti. Yes, she does typically make them ahead and freeze them. I, personally, think baked cookies lose something when frozen but, if you wrap them well, they'll still be fine as hers always were. I hope you enjoy them!

  3. so cool-they really do look very similar to biscotti! And super delicious

  4. These look so tasty. They remind me biscotti. I'll take 2 with a cup of coffee.

  5. Thank you for the recipe! I made it for a model seder I was conducting at a church last night and it was a hit. The crust of mine cracked a bit, making for crumbly cutting, but they held together quite well otherwise! I'll be playing with this, swapping out some of the cake meal for black cocoa, perhaps caramelizing almonds before adding... the possibilities are endless, THANKS SO MUCH! :D


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