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So who is Marge, and why do I love her mandelbrodt so much? And what is mandelbrodt anyway?
OK, let’s begin at the beginning. When I lived on Mercer Island across the lake from Seattle, Marge’s house was directly below ours. She and Matt, her late husband, shared my last name and we used to joke that our relatives from the “old country” were most likely related. Much like my husband, Matt was always on the roof cleaning out the gutters or planting flowers or fixing something, anything. They were true soul mates, and Matt lived well into his 90’s.
His wife Marge is a native Seattleite and is now 93 years young. In her earlier years, she was a hiker and a skier, and has always been a political activist. She takes care of four great-grandchildren under the age of six, and her house is filled with special toys and foods for the great grandkids. When I moved to Seattle 33 years ago, I was in awe that she lifted pretty hefty weights, did lunges and never held back in the fitness class we both attended. Marge is the glue of her family and would often host 15 plus people for dinner on Friday nights or for family celebrations. Despite the fact that she was 30 years older than me, we became fast friends.
Her old fashioned kitchen always had a jar of mandelbrodt; in fact my husband loved them so much that she baked them for him a handful of times. So, my friend Patti and I asked her if she would teach us how to make the special cinnamon sugar coated biscotti-like cookies, and she happily agreed and we set up a time for the demonstration. I watched her make the dough without machinery, using a plastic bowl and a wooden spoon, and now this has become my favorite, non-chocolate coffee accompaniment.
Makes about 60
Note that the method here of baking logs of dough, then slicing them and baking them a second time is very similar to how I make my chocolate chip biscotti.
- A little less than one cup of sugar (she measured in a liquid measuring cup)
- A little less than one cup of canola oil (same amount as sugar)
- 3 large eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 ½ cups stone ground unbleached white flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 cup chopped almonds with the skins on OR walnuts OR pecans
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 tsp of ground cinnamon
Stir sugar and canola oil together well with a wooden spoon.
Add eggs and vanilla, stirring with wooden spoon until well combined.
Mix flour and baking powder together in a separate bowl.
Add half of this flour mixture at a time to the dough in the bowl and stir. It will be sticky. Then add nuts (finely or more coarsely chopped). Stir everything together well.
Cover the bowl and let rest in the refrigerator for an hour. Have lunch or tea in the meantime-that is what Marge does!
When the hour is up, preheat the oven to 350 and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Divide dough into four equal balls. Wash your hands and form into 1” wide rolls. If still too sticky, I oiled the counter and formed the rolls there. Place the rolls on rimless cookie sheet lined with parchment. Put 2 rolls per sheet and space them so they don’t run into each other. I then flatten the rolls by covering the dough with another sheet of parchment and pressing down with the bottom of the second cookie sheet. Peel the parchment away and voila!
Bake on two shelves mid oven for 20 minutes, reverse the position of the cookie sheets and bake 10-15 more minutes until browned.
While they are baking, mix together the cinnamon and sugar.
Remove from the oven. Wait eight minutes then gently put each roll onto a cutting board and cut them diagonally into about 15 slices about ¾ inch wide, roll in cinnamon/sugar mixture and put on sheet spaced so both cut edges are exposed. Return to oven and TURN OFF HEAT. Leave in until the cookies are cooled or overnight.
Note : I use my electric knife to slice these babies, much as I do my biscookies.
One more interesting fact: when you add baking soda (mixed in the flour) to the batter, there is a chemical reaction and you need to bake the cookies pronto and not leave them sitting on the counter. I always use double acting non-aluminum baking powder for best flavor and replace it, once opened, after one year.
Mandel in Yiddish means almond, so traditional mandelbrodt are made with almonds but I have cheated and made them with pecans or walnuts too. In the Ukraine, mandelbrodt is known as “kamishbrot” .