Soft, chewy cookies or hard, crisp ones? As with many foods, over time people develop preferences. I am a firmly entrenched fan of the hard, dry, crisp variety of cookies. I like them to have enough substance to withstand being dunked in my coffee without melting or disintegrating. In addition to density, I like texture, so I prefer that the cookie includes nuts, chocolate chips, or both. Over the years I have tried various Mandelbrot and biscotti recipes and have found that these two recipes are among my favorites. The Chocolate Chip Mandelbrot recipe is actually a Passover recipe that was given to me by a friend of a friend. We like it so much that I now bake it all year round. The Almond Biscotti recipe was adapted from one of Judy Zeidler’s cookbooks. It has a more traditional flavor and is reminiscent of the Mandelbrot that I grew up with.
My mother would often visit family members and end up in their kitchen cooking. I remember her making schav borscht in Micheline’s kitchen and chopped liver in Tante Marisha’s kitchen. She enjoyed pitching in and being helpful, and it created a feeling of togetherness. Although I have cooked in my daughter Shira’s and my cousin Micheline’s kitchens, I sometimes end up transporting challot or cookies from my kitchen in Los Angeles. It is an expression of my affection, a way to let someone know that I was thinking of them even before I arrived at my destination. This morning I baked both Almond Biscotti and Chocolate Chip Mandelbrot (with Norm’s help) to take to Houston, Texas, where I will be attending my future daughter-in-law’s bridal shower. As Marcella Hazan the famous cookbook author once said, “After all, what experience of food can compare with eating something good made by someone you can hug?” Cookies and hugs, perfect.
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp each of baking powder and baking soda
1/4 tsp kosher salt
3/4 ground almonds
1/2 toasted silvered almonds
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup sugar
1 egg white
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place dry ingredients in a shallow bowl and mix. Create a well in the center and add eggs, vanilla and sugar and quickly incorporate flour. Divide dough into two equal portions. Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper and, using oiled hands, form dough into two logs. Brush with beaten egg white. Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden. Move logs to a board and carefully slice on a diagonal. Return to cookie sheet, cut side up, and bake for an additional 10 minutes on each side.
Loretta’s Chocolate Chip Mandelbrot
3 sticks margarine
2 cups sugar plus an extra 4 Tbs for sprinkling
2 3/4 cups cake meal
3/4 potato starch
1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp cinnamon
2 – 12 oz. bags of chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Reserve 4 Tbs sugar and mix with 2 Tsp cinnamon and set aside. Cream sugar and margarine. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each egg. Add dry ingredients. Divide dough into 4 equal portions and with oiled hands, form 4 loaves, divided between 2 greased cookie sheets. Sprinkle each loaf with an equal amount of the cinnamon sugar mixture. Bake for about 45 minutes. Slice loaves and place Mandelbrot cut side up, sprinkling with more cinnamon sugar. Return to oven and bake another 10-15 minutes per side or till crispy.