Every Jewish family has their own version of mandel bread. Some make it with oil, some with margarine, and some with butter. This is the tale of four different family recipes.
Usually on Fridays (at least since quarantine began), you can find me in the kitchen making challah for Shabbat. This has become a nice tradition that helps me to keep a sense of normalcy during these rapidly changing and difficult times. Last week, I went a little bit overboard and made four large loaves so, since there is no need to make more this week, I’m making mandel bread!
For readers who are unfamiliar with mandel bread, it is basically a Jewish biscotti like cookie. You cook them in long logs at a low temperature for a while and then cut them into individual cookies and bake for 5-10 minutes longer. Traditionally they contain a type of nut mixed into the dough. I have added chocolate chips to all of mine as well.
I will be sharing each recipe in the coming days and I ask you to test the ones that sound the best to you! Tag @northshoretosouthbay on instagram and facebook and let me know which ones you made!
The first recipe I tested comes from my grandfather’s cousin’s wife. Her name was Lois Cohn and she was one of the warmest people to grace this planet, with a smile that you couldn’t help but reciprocate. She wrote a cookbook with her friend who is of Syrian descent called Coming to the Table: An Arab-Jewish American Cookbook in which she and her friend, Shirley, write side by side recipes from their families. This cookbook highlights the similarities between cuisines in parts of the world that have a tumultuous history. All of this to say, Lois’s recipe is the most traditional of the three using oil (Kosher Jews do not mix milk and meat, therefore if you use oil you can eat the cookies after a meat dinner) and almond extract.
3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
⅔ cup vegetable oil (canola oil works fine too)
⅔ cup sugar
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)
½ cup chocolate chips (optional)
Cinnamon sugar for top (optional)
Mix oil, eggs, sugar, and almond extract in a large bowl until fully mixed. Add all of the dry ingredients until just about fully mixed. Add chocolate chips and nuts and finish mixing.
Shape two long logs on a cookie sheet covered with a silicone baking sheet.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes, until light brown. Remove from oven and slices while still hot. I usually transfer each log to a cutting board to make the cutting process easier.
Once sliced, return to oven and bake for an additional 7 minutes on one side. Take out of the oven, flip the cookies over and bake for another 7 minutes.
Let cool and enjoy!