Saturday, January 23, 2010

My Inner Bubbie: Mandelbrot

One of the things that my Bubbie made all the time was mandelbrot. If you're not familiar with this cookie, it's basically a Jewish biscotti.

Confession: I'm not a huge fan.

I mean, I like them and all. But they're not my favorite. Too crunchy, too crumbly. Good, but not life-changing.

Confession #2: Not only have I never made them before, I have never seen anyone make them before.

Yep, never followed Bubbie around the kitchen for these puppies. I have perfected her carrot cake, so you can see where my priorities lie.

So when a request was made for mandelbrot, I had to go back to the source. I called my mom, who has both of my Bubbies' recipes (both are, thank God, still living, but neither one bakes any their mid-90s, both of them!)...and she scanned them in for me.

Bubbie Rose:

Bubbie Raye:

Both clearly well-worn and well-used recipe cards. What the heck is Spry? Turns out, it's like Crisco.

So, without any Spry, I knew that oil would be my fat of choice. Then I opened every single Jewish cookbook I own (I think there are about 10), enlisted my mom and my mother-in-law in their recollection of mandelbrot baking, and even made a phone call to Bubbie Rose while baking. I knew she'd kvell that I was making mandelbrot, and I figured it didn't hurt to question an expert...

So here's the recipe I adapted from a conglomeration of sources:

Traditional (?) Mandelbrot
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup canola oil
1 tsp baking powder
pinch salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup chopped walnuts lightly toasted
3 cups flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together eggs, sugar, oil, baking powder, salt and vanilla. Add 3 cups of flour and stir with a wooden spoon. (Okay, Bubbie said "use a wooden spoon, or whatever you want to mix it.) Add more flour if you think it's too sticky. If you never made it before, don't add any extra flour because it's probably fine.

Add the chopped nuts, and stir them in.

On a cookie sheet lined with parchment (or greased, but I'm a parchment gal), shape into logs. I think mine were a little too wide.

Bake for about 22 minutes. (The logs above are actually cooked, it's hard to tell.)
Remove from oven, and while hot, slice the logs, like so:
(According to my dad AND my mom, this is the time to "snitch" one off the cookie sheet. I agree. They're really good soft and hot.)

Turn the slices on their sides. Some people sprinkle here with cinnamon and sugar. Bubbie said "I never did that but I know that other people like to." When I questioned her about chocolate chips, she said: "Well, I don't like all that extra stuff in there. But some people like to." She's very open to alternative ideas, my bubbie. Bake for another 15-20 minutes or until they're crunchy and brown.

And there you have your mandelbrot. Mine didn't last long, I brought them in for the Hebrew School teachers. They were well-received. They did not taste like Bubbie's as I recall them...maybe I'll have to try out some Spry.

I plan to make them again this week with my mom, so she can lend a more practiced eye. I think I would chop the nuts more finely, but others said that they liked that there was a bite to the nuts. This experience opened me up to a lot of things I've never made, let alone watched anyone else make. For example, I've never made rugelach, or teigelach, or even keneidlach. I've seen kreplach made, but never done it myself. What other great old Jewish foods are out there that I don't know how to make? I'm a hamantashen maven. I'm going to learn. Rugelach are next in the new series here at Ima on and off the Bima... "My Inner Bubbie." Stay tuned!

By the way, I heard that Creative Jewish Mom was hosting a link-up party for Jewish crafts and recipes today (tomorrow?) so I might update with a link over to that.


homeshuling said...

If you aren't concerned about their being pareve, I might try butter instead of oil, since it's also a solid at room temp.

I am also not a big mondelbrodt fan, but I am a huge fan of old recipe cards.

Phyllis Sommer said...

you know, i didn't find a single recipe with butter. maybe beacuse of a desire to keep them pareve, but isn't that interesting!?

i love old recipe cards, too. that's why i asked my mom to scan them:-)

ilanadavita said...

I like them with ice-cream or orange salad.

TheAngelForever said...

My grandmother still makes Chocolate chip mandelbrodt. I have to admit, I do not think I have ever been there to watch her make them either. I need to make a point to do that, along with her apple cake recipe. I know a lot of them are not written down, she just does them from memory. Not a huge fan of them, but appreciate them when we need something pareve.

Jew Wishes said...

I love the photos! The old and worn cards are wonderful and nostalgic items.

I like them dipped in yogurt.

Minnesota Mamaleh said...

oh, the recipe cards! they made me teary! what is *that* about? excellent post. thank you!