Mandelbrot means almond bread in Yiddish, but its origins are the biscotti cookies that were created in Italy over 700 years ago. These biscotti originally contained no fat or sugar and were baked twice so that they would be very hard and dry and last for months on ships at sea. Biscotti recipes traveled north to Germany where they became very popular with the Jewish community because they could be made in advance of Shabbat and stay fresh for days.
Around the early 19oos oil or butter was added to the dough along with different nuts, dried fruit, or chocolate chips, and our modern Mandelbrot was created. During the Depression and World War II, butter and cooking oil were expensive and hard to come by, so mayonnaise was often used in their place. Mayonnaise is the secret ingredient in these mystery Mandelbrot.
Nina Hellmann created Hellmann’s mayonnaise in 1905 to use on sandwiches and for sale in her German husband’s deli in New York City. Perhaps the Hellmann’s were Jewish? Who knows, but Hellmann’s mayonnaise makes these cookies delicious!
The almond tree is the first tree to bloom in Israel in the early spring, making this recipe perfect for Tu B’Shevat.
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 cup Hellmann’s® mayonnaise
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips, regular or mini variety
1/2 cup slivered almonds
- Pre-heat oven to 325F.
- Place the flour, sugar, baking powder, and cinnamon in a 3 quart mixing bowl and stir with a wooden spoon to combine.
- Add the remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly.
- Divide dough in half and form into 2 long, narrow loaves on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove cookie sheet from oven and cool 5 minutes.
- Carefully transfer one loaf to a cutting board. Using a chef’s knife, slice the loaf on the diagonal into 1/2 inch slices. Lay slices cut side down on the cookie sheet and repeat with the other loaf. Return cookie sheet to the oven and bake for 5 minutes.
- Remove sheet from oven, turn the slices over, and return to the oven to bake for another 5 minutes or until golden. Cool completely before storing in sealed container.
- Yield: about 3 dozen slices