What is Mandlebrodt and How to Make it.
A Recipe that spans Ethnicities
I am going a bit out of order and putting the dessert before the main course. this way you won't have to worry about saving room! I have been thinking about this yummy cake for a few days now and decided to go ahead and publish it. This series is about my mother-in-law, Miriam who is a Moroccan Jew living in Israel. In past hubs, I have talked a bit about my background, a third generation American Jew, whose family comes from Russia. Our family was never steeped in Russian traditition but there was a lot of European influence in the way they conducted themselves. We are Ashkenazic (European) Jews. We are very different from Separdic (Middle Eastern/Spanish) Jews, especially in the cooking! While many of the foods are the same and have the same name, the spices and presentation can be quite different. This is one such recipe.
A little history on Mandlebrodt
Mandlebrodt means almond bread. It is an almond twice baked cookie that is very similar in flavor and consistency to biscotti. It is also known as Mandel Bread. When I was a little girl, my grandmother used to make it. We were each given a slice and they knew we'd be quiet for awhile in order to work on our crunchy dessert! I remember liking it...a little. Not so much for the cake itself but for the memory it evoked. My mother never made it and neither did I. it was something I would only nibble on if it was being served somewhere else!
Fast forward to 1994. It is Purim, a holiday that is similar to halloween in that we wear costumes and exchange goodies.The neighbors bring each other baskets and trays of sweets. Someday, I will try to write more about this beautiful tradition but today it is about the mandlebrodt and my first experience of the Sephardic version. The one that turned me into a fan!
A Mandlebrodt Bake Off
I mentioned previously that for every recipe you try , there are at least 3 more ways to do it. Miriam's mandlebrodt was unrecognizable to me. That is not to say it wasn't good. It simply didn't look or taste anything like it. It was breadlike with a yummy chocolate center. My mouth is watering for it as I write this but it is not Mondlebrodt. In our village, the people immagrated primarily from Morocco, Cochine India and Tunisia. Those Tunisian ladies sure knew how to make mandlebrodt. Again, it was different from traditional European Mandlebrodt but in my opinion, better!
Kudos to allrecipes.com
I am not including my own recipe because I don't bake this. I just enjoy it and all the variations of it. The following recipe is very close to the one that we enjoyed in Israel with one or two slight differences. No second baking. The beauty of the Israeli version of Mandel Bread is that it is soft and chewy rather than crunchy like biscotti. The only other difference is that you can change the fillers. A very popular fruit to add is dates. You can mix it up by putting chocolate chips and nuts in one and dates in another. Some people like raisins or currants. It's all up to personal tastes. Try this recipe and see how you like it. If you like it crisp and crunchy, follow the instructions through the end. If you want the softer version, skip step 4.