Mandelbrot (hold the mandel, add the chocolate)

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Boy, these cookies sure look like biscotti, don’t they? And they’re baked just like biscotti. And they taste… just like biscotti.

Fooled you! They’re mandelbrot.

A cookie by any other name would taste as sweet?

Mandelbrot—literally, almond bread—is the eastern European version of Italy’s biscotti. Crunchy, light, packed with almonds (traditionally) or with the add-ins of your choice (I chose chocolate, as always, plus walnuts), these cookies are fancy enough to qualify as beyond-everyday, yet easy enough not to tax your brain nor your baking skills.

Since they’re made with oil rather than butter, mandelbrot are non-dairy, and thus appropriate for Jewish holiday meals that include meat. (I’m gradually learning the rules… go easy on me, please!) I realize these aren’t traditional mandelbrot (remember, no almonds); but let’s just call them an Americanized version.

And let’s call them delicious, too. Because that’s surely what they are.

Since tomorrow is Rosh Hashanah, let’s get on the stick here and make mandelbrot—chocolate chip and walnut version. For the traditional version, substitute almonds for both the chips and walnuts.

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First, combine eggs, vegetable oil (we use safflower here in the test kitchen; it has a very neutral flavor), sugar, salt, and vanilla (it’s hidden under the sugar) in a mixing bowl.

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Beat till well combined.

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Then continue beating for about 5 minutes, till the mixture is lighter in texture and lemon-colored.

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Add the baking powder and flour (King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose, of course, my best friend in the kitchen)…

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…and beat gently till well combined.

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Stir in the chips and nuts.

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Cover with plastic, and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or overnight.

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Divide the chilled dough into four equal pieces; a scale makes this task easy and accurate.

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Shape each piece into a rough log about 8” long, and place on two lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet, two logs to a sheet.

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Use your wet fingers to pat/smooth the logs till they’re about 8” x 2” x 1” tall.

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A sprinkling of coarse white sugar is always a plus!

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Bake the logs in a 350°F oven for 30 to 35 minutes, until they’re very lightly browned around the edges—like this. Turn the oven heat down to 300°F.

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Remove from the oven, and spritz lightly with water; this will soften the logs’ crust just a bit, making them easier to slice. Let the logs cool for 10 minutes before slicing.

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Use a serrated knife to gently slice logs into 1/2” slices diagonally…

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…or crosswise. Crosswise, you’ll get slightly shorter cookies, and slightly more of them. Be sure to cut straight up and down, so the mandelbrot can stand on their edges without wobbling.

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Like this. Put them back on the baking sheets; they can be fairly close together. You won’t be able to cram them all on one sheet; you’ll have to use two.

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Now you’re going to bake them again. And you’ll need to use some judgment. The mandelbrot (above) aren’t done; they’re still soft. See how they’re not browned at all?

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Now look at the little mandelbrot on the right. It’s brown all over; it’s a bit too brown.

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These two mandelbrot are both fine. The one on the bottom is a bit more browned than the one on the top.

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And here they are,  ready to enjoy. YUM!

Read, review, and rate (please!) our recipe for Chocolate Chip-Walnut Mandelbrot.

Buy vs. Bake

Buy: Nonni’s Biscotti Cioccolati, almond biscotti dipped in chocolate, 52¢/ounce

Bake at home: Chocolate Chip Walnut Mandelbrot, 16¢/ounce

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!

comments

  1. pgdcooksgarden

    Can you please explain when to use baking powder vs. baking soda? Some very similar recipes from different authors will use only one or both leaveners. In this Mandlebrot recipe baking powder is used and then the dough is refrigerated for 3 hours or overnight. Doesn’t this take the power out of the baking powder? Thanks, Priscilla

    Hi Priscilla – Very generally speaking, baking soda is used when there’s a significant presence of acidic ingredients: yogurt/buttermilk/sour cream; brown sugar; natural cocoa, or other acidic ingredients. This is because baking soda is a base, and needs an acid (plus liquid) to spark its reaction. Baking powder, on the other hand, includes both acid and base; and needs just liquid to get it going. Double-acting baking powder, which is what we all use, needs both liquid and heat; thus it’s fine to store batters or doughs with baking powder for awhile without baking, as they’ll react first to the liquid, then to the oven heat – that’s why they’re called double-acting. Hope this helps – PJH

    Reply
  2. Carole McFadden

    Love this blog! and recipes. Where can I find Sparkling coarse white sugar? The Sparkling Cranberry Gems call for it and I need it for a cookie exchange this Monday evening. Help! Is this something I should have ordered from KAF with my order last week? If so, would Organic Raw sugar work in its place as a substitute this time?

    Yup, too late to order from us now – even though we’re really fast, we’re not that fast! But just get the coarsest sugar you can find – which probably is the organic raw sugar. Turbinado, Demerara, anything like that. Don’t worry, they won’t be as pretty, but still taste fine. Good luck – PJH

    Reply
  3. Emma

    This recipe looks amazing! I’ve always wanted to try making biscotti but I thought it was really complicated. You’ve given me motivation with your beautiful pictures of chocolate chip filled mandelbrot. I’ll be making these for sure!

    Go for it, Emma – you can do it! 🙂 PJH

    Reply
  4. Susan

    Instead of using coarse sprinkling sugar on top, I usually use cinnamon-sugar with very tasty results. I also usually only put in the chocolate chips and omit the nuts, but I’m thinking almonds and dried cherries would be tasty additions to the chocolate chips.

    Almonds and dried cherries and chocolate chips, Susan? Hear, hear! PJH

    Reply
  5. Andrea Bowker

    I have been baking these mandelbrot ever since the recipe was published here – once trying them with almonds and cinnamon flav-r-bites (a wonderful product I have not quite been able to work into my baking as yet). I now make them with pecans instead of walnuts. The last time, however, I accidentally made them with white whole wheat flour (not reading my canisters carefully enough!). It took me a long time to figure out why they tasted so different, but on the whole the resulting denser biscuit was even better than the original. It stands up even more forcefully to the espresso it always gets dipped into. Just a thought!

    Reply

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