Mandelbread: The Cookie Underdog

Our recipe and why we love this treat

Maybe I’m a sucker for underdogs (if it’s possible for a cookie to be an underdog—they’re all winners in my book!). But for reasons I can’t understand, in all my years of baking and selling food for Zingerman’s Bakehouse, mandelbread has never been that popular. It’s at the top of my go-to list for a snack or a gift!

mandelbrot slices

Mandelbread, also known as mandelbrot, is our surprisingly amazing citrus almond cookie with Eastern European origins. You might recognize them as biscotti. Mandelbrot in Yiddish translates to almond bread in English. But they’re so much more than that. It is not too sweet, not overly brittle, but certainly full of great flavor and crunch. The perfect partner to your morning or afternoon hot drink of choice.

The best ingredients

The key to our mandelbread is the fresh lemon and orange zest, coupled with the almonds that are blanched (so they’re skinless) and toasted (so they have maximum flavor). Those vibrant ingredients are held together with our staples of great baking: organic wheat flour, sweet cream Wisconsin butter, fresh eggs, cane sugar, and Madagascar bourbon vanilla.

All those tasty ingredients come together to be rolled and baked. Then each loaf is hand-sliced on the bias and baked again to a golden blonde. It all adds up to a toasty twice-baked cookie unlike any other. And all that extra attention pays off in each bite. Their flavor is big, bright, rich, and satisfying.

Portable and long-lasting

Mandelbrot certainly have staying power too. Their texture lends itself to lasting in a jar or a box. Although, why would you want to keep them around for very long when you could be eating them?! It’s been said these cookies were popular in Eastern Europe among rabbis, merchants, and other itinerant Jews, as a staple dessert that kept well. Perhaps that was also because they are so portable.

I find them sturdy enough to carry on a plane or ship as a gift, tasty enough to liven up any boring coffee break or meeting, and even a convenient bereavement offering in my experience (just open the box and serve, no knives or plates needed). But most of all I just love curling up with a piece of mandelbread, a cup of hot black tea, and a blanket, while watching it snow outside! Each and every time, I am taken aback by just how good these cookies are.

And when you’re done gobbling them up, check the bottom of your package to see if you’re lucky enough to have a few crumbles and almonds that have broken loose. Don’t you dare throw them out! Those are crunchy bits of flavor gold! Pour them on yogurt or a bowl of fresh fruit. It’s the best!

mandelbread parfait bowl

Pick some up in our Bakeshop, learn how to make them in a BAKE! class, send a gift box of mandelbread, or make your own:

Mandelbread

Course: Dessert
Servings: 4 dozen

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter, room temperature (.50 lbs)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar (.47 lbs)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons orange zest
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (.77 lbs)
  • 1 3/4 cups whole almonds (.55 lbs)

For garnish

  • 1 cup almonds, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup granulated sugar (.47 lbs)

Instructions

  • Heat oven to 350° F.
  • In a mixing bowl, combine the butter, sugar, and salt. Cream together by hand or on medium speed with the paddle attachment. Cream until light and fluffy.
  • On medium speed, add the eggs one at a time while mixing. Cream until the eggs are fully incorporated. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl if necessary.
  • Add the lemon zest, orange zest, and vanilla extract and stir until combined.
  • On low speed, or gently by hand, add the flour. Mix until the dough is well-combined.
  • Add the almonds and mix until just incorporated.
  • Divide the dough in half and chill for 15 minutes.
  • While the dough is chilling, mix the chopped almonds and sugar together.
  • Remove the dough from the fridge and roll each half into a ten-inch log. Use flour liberally while making this log, to stop the dough from sticking to your counter.
  • Brush each log with a little water and generously cover with the almond and sugar mixture.
  • Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet with 6 inches between each log.
  • Bake the mandelbrot for 35 to 40 minutes at 350° F. Remove from the oven and cool for 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Slice the mandelbrot logs into individual cookies about 1/2-inch thick.
  • Place the slices, standing up on their bottoms, back on a parchment-lined sheet pan and bake for 20 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool.

Notes

Store in an airtight container for up to 2 months.

This post was originally posted on February 6th, 2018. We’re resharing it today because we’ve updated it to include our recipe.

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Alex
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Alex

I always pick up some mandelbrot whenever I see it at the Bakehouse! Sweet, nutty, the perfect amount of crunch and crumble! I agree that mandelbrot is an underdog. The sugar-sparkling ginger jump-ups or shiny, glazed strawberry danish might grab your attention in the pastry case but the mandelbrot is where it’s at! I would love this recipe for the holidays. Something not overly sweet, but still a treat, to serve with after-dinner coffee.

Liz Kaplan
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Liz Kaplan

Recipe says preheat to 350 but in the instruction step 12, it says 325. Is one of those an error or am I to lower the oven temperature?

Lindsay-Jean Hard
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Lindsay-Jean Hard

Sorry for the confusion Liz, and thanks for the catch, it should be 350° F!

Lydia
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Lydia

Are the almonds in the cookie chopped at all?

Lindsay-Jean Hard
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Lindsay-Jean Hard

Hi Lydia, you’re using whole almonds in the cookie, and chopped almonds for the garnish!

Prasi
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Prasi

Hi, really excited to see the mandelbrot recipe posted! But is there really neither baking powder nor baking soda in this recipe? Thanks.

Lindsay-Jean Hard
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Lindsay-Jean Hard

Hi Prasi, that’s correct!