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”).
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!
For the cookie’s character and the recipe…