As much as I love coffee and cookies, I generally overlook the jars of biscotti slowly staling on a coffeeshop’s counter. I’d choose a madeleine over a dry biscotti any day when I need to satisfy a craving for something small and sweet. But the concept of a nutty, toasty, crunchy, and chocolatey item to dunk into one’s coffee or tea is appealing—which is why it’s time to appreciate biscotti’s more delicious cousin, mandelbrot.
Mandelbrot are a coarse nut cookie of Eastern European and Ashkenazi Jewish origin. Mandel means almond and brot means bread, but some recipes—including the one I use—call for walnuts, not almonds. The defining feature is that the nuts are more coarsely chopped than biscotti’s fine flour, and that mandelbrot have a higher oil content, making them softer and richer. I also throw in a generous cup of chocolate chips and drizzle the final bars with more chocolate. This is optional, but highly recommended.
I suppose both biscotti and mandelbrot are cookies, though mandelbrot feel closer to what we Americans expect of cookies. They’re bar-shaped, with enough nutty-sweetness to remind us of a walnut-chocolate-chip cookie that went heavy on the nuts. Yet they’re not overwhelmingly sweet, unless you dial the chocolate up to 11. The recipe I use was emailed to me years ago by my mom; it’s close to the King Arthur Flour version, though with fewer steps and less waiting and dough-misting. I find it’s a forgiving recipe, because mandelbrot are somewhat dry and crumbly by nature. Overbake them just a couple minutes and no one will be the wiser. Serve with a strong cup of coffee or tea, and revel in the toasty delights of eating what is essentially a cookie for breakfast.
Walnut and chocolate mandelbrot
Makes about 20 bars
- 3 large eggs
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 cups walnuts, finely chopped or coarsely ground in a nut mill
- 1 cup mini chocolate chips, plus more for optional drizzle
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Beat eggs and granulated sugar on medium speed until the batter is custard-like and light in color, a full 5 minutes. Add remaining ingredients to the batter and stir to combine.
Divide batter into four equal parts, shaping a small, inch-think loaf out of each portion. Place two loaves each on two ungreased cookie sheets.
Bake for about 30 minutes, or until lightly golden. Remove from oven and cut each log width-wise into inch-thick strips (see right). It’s okay if they’re close to each other on the sheet. Return sheets to oven and bake an addition 5-10 minutes until golden brown on all sides.
Remove from oven, let cool, and optionally drizzle with melted chocolate.