Published August 13, 2020 - Last Updated February 1, 2021
Mandel bread, also known as mandelbrot, are classic Jewish cookies. Similar to Italian biscotti, these crunchy cookies are perfect for dipping in tea or coffee. This easy, classic recipe came to me courtesy of a reader, by way of her grandmother Bubbie Ruth. Usually they are twice-baked to make them crispy and crunchy. Additionally, they can be soft-baked for a more tender texture. No matter how they are made, Bubbie Ruth’s Mandel Bread deserves a spot in your recipe box!
Mandelbrot cookies are an Ashkenazi Jewish dessert dating back to the early nineteenth century. Mandelbrot are closely related to the Italian cookies known as biscotti, which were first made in the Middle Ages. The word mandelbrot means almond (mandel) and bread (brot) in both German and Yiddish. In America, these tasty little cookies are known as mandel bread. Typically mandel bread are twice-baked, which makes them crispy and crunchy. They’re perfect for dipping in your tea or coffee. Because most of the moisture is baked out of them, they also have a fairly long shelf life.
The origin of Jewish mandelbrot is a bit of a mystery. In the wonderful book Jewish Cooking in America, Joan Nathan writes about the history of mandelbrot cookies and their similarity to other cookies made in Europe and Eastern Europe:
“With a large Jewish population in Piedmont, Italy may have been the place where Jews first tasted biscotti and later brought them to Europe where they called them mandelbrot, which literally means almond bread. In the Ukraine, a similar cookie not necessarily with almonds but made at home, thuskamish, was served. 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.”
Today’s simple and tasty recipe for mandel bread comes to us courtesy of blog reader Beth Steiner. Beth writes a cooking blog called Someone’s in the Kitchen with Brina. Beth’s Hebrew name is Brina; her blog focuses on easy kosher recipes. Her family recipe, Bubbie Ruth’s Mandel Bread, is sweetened with chocolate chips.
Of this recipe, Beth said:
“My father’s mother, Bubbie Ruth, was an amazing cook and baker. One of my favorite memories is working in her kitchen, patting rolls of mandel bread dough into the baking pan. She would always bring a fresh batch with her when she and my Zadie came to visit from Florida. After Bubbie died in 2002, my mom took over the recipe and always stores it in her special mandel bread tin. She would send it to my sister at college and once sent me a huge batch when I was living abroad in Israel. Bubbie Ruth’s Mandel Bread is a staple at every family gathering. I have her KitchenAid mixer and every time I use it to make her mandel bread, I feel close to her all over again.”
I use my KitchenAid mixer to make these, in memory of Beth’s Bubbie Ruth. You can use an electric hand mixer if you prefer. Note that I’ve included a Soft Mandel Bread Variation at the end of the recipe for those who prefer a softer version of this cookie.
A special thanks to Beth for sharing this delicious recipe!
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Thanks for stopping by! I am fascinated by the story behind the food – why we eat what we eat, how the foods of different cultures have evolved, and how yesterday’s food can inspire us in the kitchen today. Read more...