Tag Archives: Holiday

MandelBread or Mandelbrot-Delectable By Any Name: What Would Jessie Dish? Week 12

I have absolutely no recollection of this recipe from my childhood. As part of my grandmother Jessie’s recently discovered files, “mandlebread” is a fantastic recipe.   Either I had never eaten this cookie or simply cannot remember it.  For a child, perhaps it is too hard as cookies go? Mandlebrot does not go as well with milk, say, rather than with tea – ugh for most kids – or coffee – double ugh.  It is also devoid of chocolate, so I might not have cared for them, obliterating the memories of one try from my mind.

The recipe is very specific with its directions and was a breeze to follow –  with one odd exception: “nuts”. “Mandel” is “almond”, so I suspect Jessie just knew to use them – rather than other favourites of hers, such as pecans or walnuts. A mandelbrot, or, mandelbrodt, is an middle-European counterpart to biscotti, made typically with almonds (“mandel”, in both German and Yiddish, “brot” meaning “bread”).  Mandelbrot has made a bit of a comeback in cookie-dom, along with the resurgence in world-wide coffee-culture (in this iteration, think Starbucks and free WiFi as opposed to Le Procope in Paris and “philosophers cafes”).

Around age 70, Jessie enjoyed the Mayan ruins in Mexico.

What I found amusing about this recipe is that I could not find a photo which somehow would correspond. So I chose one of my grandmother at the ruins of Uxmal on a winter getaway to Mexico around 1974. Jessie visited Israel right after Egypt a few years before her trip to Mexico (and I have used the one photo I have from that tour already) but never went to middle-European destinations (e.g., Austria, Hungary, or Germany, where mandelbrot once reigned supreme), so the Mayan setting will have to do!

Mandelbrot with flowers from our gardens (courtesy of CJM Floral Engineering, Inc.)

For the cookie’s character and the recipe…

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Peppermint candy cane cheesecake 2009

Xmas cheesecake 09

The peppermint cheesecake, just decorated.

For a small island dinner hosted by our friends Jim and Kip (including Kip’s sister as well as her niece visiting from Vancouver), I created the holiday-suitable Peppermint Candy Cane Cheesecake. I adapted it from two reliable trustworthy sources, Dorie Greenspan for the cake, and Nick Malgieri for the chocolate-wafer-cookie-almond crust. The mint extract/lemon in the cake in addition to the topping were adapted from a cheesecake recipe on the Canadian Living website (http://www.canadianliving.com/food/).

My thinking was that the minty aspect of the cake would be refreshing – even though it is a cheesecake – after a holiday meal. The crumbled candy cane circle complemented the minty cake and looked seasonably appropriate in the photos I saw online.

The cake could not have been more creamy and smooth – maybe not quite the texture for those of the more-substantial-granular-cheesecake school (or alumni of MSGCS??) – but rich, luxurious, and classic. The tangy sassiness – or should that be sassy tanginess? – of the lemon and peppermint in the cake was a welcome counterpoint to the silky texture. Another textural highlight was the wonderfully crunchy crust, which was neither mushy nor too-tough-to-cut, as has been the case with some other cheese cakes I unfortunately have met in my past.

Cheesecake interior indicates great height

The peppermint candy cane cheesecake recipe Continue reading

Memories of holiday cakes past

Chocolate Birthday Cake with Billowy Marshmallow Frosting

In preparing for this year’s holiday season, I have been reflecting on cakes I made in the recent past.  I thought of calling my debut post, “A la recherche des gateaux perdus”, but figured that might be too Proustianly pretentious (or pretentiously Proustian?) or just plain ‘ole silly .  Besides, David Lebovitz has the whole madeleine thing well covered already.

We all know that dessert is the most important course in any meal. OK, maybe it is not after breakfast…usually.  For any holiday, a noteworthy cake makes a memorable end to a memorable meal.  There really is a reason for lyrics such as “visions of sugar plums danced in their heads”.

For last year’s new year’s eve potluck, as I am wont to do, I went through piles of my cookbooks seeking inspiration for a suitable cake.  The inspiration was the enticing “Dark Chocolate Peppermint Pattie Cake” (from Sweet Stuff: Karen Barker’s American Desserts).  Here is the photo I took quickly, before heading over to the party, at our friends’ house three doors away, on new year’s eve:

Chocolate Peppermint Pattie Cake

Dark Chocolate Peppermint Pattie Cake

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