Chocolate-Pecan Mandel Bread

Mandel bread, also known as Mandelbrot, is a traditional twice-baked Jewish cookie similar to biscotti. Like biscotti, Mandel bread is crunchy, however, it’s made with more fat than biscotti, so the resulting cookie is a bit richer and less dry. These cookies were popular throughout the 19th century among Eastern European Jews, often consumed by rabbis, merchants, and other Jewish community members. They grew in popularity, known to be a dessert that kept well and traveled easily.

chocolate-pecan mandel bread

The History of Mendel Bread

Mandelbrot cookies are an Ashkenazi Jewish dessert that has been around for centuries. The word “Mandelbrot” means almond “Mandel” and bread “brot” in both German and Yiddish. Since Mandelbrot literally means “almond bread”, the most traditional add-in would be chopped or slivered almonds although other nuts can be just as wonderful as is the case with this chocolate-pecan version.

chocolate-pecan mandel bread

According to Gil Marks, author of the “Encyclopedia of Jewish Food,” Mandel bread is thought to have originated in Germany and traveled Eastward. In the early Middle Ages, Italians created the original biscotti by partially baking the dough, slicing it, and then returning the pieces to a cooler oven to crisp up. The second time in the oven extracts the moisture which in turn, lengthens the shelf life of the cookie.

chocolate-pecan mandel bread

Ashkenazi Jews

When these cookies got adopted by Ashkenazi Jews is unknown, though Mandel bread’s easy preparation made it ideal for the Sabbath, as they could be cooked ahead of time. Once baking powder was added, Mandel bread became much lighter and softer in comparison to biscotti. Over time, Jewish cooks began to add dried fruit, nuts, and chocolate chips. I like making Mandel Bread in the Fall for Rosh Hashanah. During Passover, it is common to make Mandel bread with matzah meal instead of flour.

My chocolate-pecan Mendel bread comes together easily in just one bowl. Chilling time is required to help the flavors blend and make the dough easier to work with. You can make in two or more logs depending on the size desired and it can be sliced thick or thin after their first round in the oven. The cinnamon-sugar dusting on the outside is perhaps my favorite part which adds to their texture and complexity.

chocolate-pecan mandel bread

Jewish or not, Mandel bread is a wonderful cookie for dipping, dunking, and enjoying any time of year, and flavor-wise, the options are truly limitless.

About the Author

Andrea Potischman

I am a professionally trained NYC chef turned CA mom and food blogger. I post about real food, with doable ingredient lists that are family friendly.

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