Mandelbrot, which literally means almond (mandel) bread (brot), is a twice-baked hard bread similar to Italian biscotti. According to Jewish Cooking in America, "With a large Jewish population in Piedmont, Italy may have been the place where Jews first tasted biscotti and later brought them to Eastern Europe. In Italy they are often eaten as a dessert dipped into wine or grappa. In Eastern Europe, Jews dipped them into a glass of tea, and because they include no butter and are easily kept they became a good Sabbath dessert" (Jewish Cooking in America, Joan Nathan [Alfred A. Knopf:New York] 1998 p. 354).
Growing up, mandel bread was a staple in our house, especially around the Jewish Holidays. My mother's friend, Paula always made the best kind with chocolate chips and a ton of cinnamon and sugar. Paula would bring over a HUGE batch and we would eat some and then freeze the rest. We wanted to have it for as long as possible, so we would just take out a few pieces at a time to enjoy it throughout the next few months. Today, I make Paula's mandel bread every year for the holidays. When I bake it, my house smells like the good old days when my mother and I would be preparing for our own holiday dinners together. I just love it.
I was so excited when I received a submission from Skokie, Illinois native, Charlotte, about her mother's mandel bread. Charlotte shares a very sweet story with an incredible recipe. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!