Dark Chocolate Cherry Mandelbrot, also known as Mandel Bread or Mandel Brot – Biscotti-Like Almond-Scented Cookie Recipe with Dried Cherries and Dark Chocolate. Perfect with Tea or Coffee!
I don’t know what’s happening in your neck of the woods, but it’s been a heck of a week here. Feeling drained on many levels, but simultaneously energized thanks to starting a regular yoga practice. I’ve been nine times in the past two weeks and I’m starting to feel pretty great physically. Making time for that meditative practice in a busy week, forcing myself into sometimes uncomfortable positions and encouraging myself to release any pent-up tension, has been a real life saver. Working off those extra calories has been a nice bonus, too… it gives me some room to indulge in my favorite treats, like these Dark Chocolate Cherry Mandelbrot!
You might be thinking– “these look like biscotti.” And you’d be right. Mandelbrot are closely related to biscotti, an Italian cookie that originated in the Middle Ages. The Ashkenazi Jewish version of biscotti, mandelbrot, dates back to the early nineteenth century. There are many theories on how and when the cookie was adopted by Ashkenazi Jewish cooks. In Jewish Cooking in America, my friend 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.”
In these mandelbrot I’ve replaced the traditional chopped almonds with a more delicate pure almond extract to capture an almond essence without the crunch. I love the combination of cherries and almonds, and adding dark chocolate is always a no-brainer. If you have trouble tracking down dried cherries, feel free to substitute dried sweetened cranberries (craisins). And if you want a more crunchy, nutty mandelbrot, feel free to add some blanched almond slivers to the mix. Dip in coffee or tea and enjoy!
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Dark Chocolate Cherry Mandelbrot
- 1 cup canola oil
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1 tsp pure almond extract
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 cup dark chocolate chunks
- 1 cup dried cherries
- 12 oz dark chocolate for dipping
- use dairy-free chocolate to make the recipe parve
- you may substitute dried sweetened cranberries
- choose chocolate that is both dark and sweet (use dairy free to keep parve)
- Mix together oil and sugar until combined, then add eggs one at a time. After the eggs are combined, add almond extract.
- Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt and add them slowly to the sugar/egg mixture. Once the dough is smooth and sticky, mix in the chocolate chunks and cherries. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator for a few hours (at least 2) or overnight.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil your hands and form 4 long rows with the dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet (I line the cookie sheet with parchment paper for easy cleanup). Each strip of dough should be 3-4 inches wide. They will spread out a lot during cooking, so make sure you leave enough space between the rows. You may need to use more than one cookie sheet to allow for enough space.
- Bake for 25 minutes.
- Take the mandelbrot out and turn the oven down to 250 degrees F. Slice the mandelbrot into biscotti-sized pieces.
- Put the pieces back on the cookie sheet, cut sides up.Bake for another 15 minutes until they've achieved the texture you desire. Some folks like them on the softer side, while some prefer a more crisp cookie (which will have a longer shelf life). The longer they stay in the oven, the crisper they will be. If the slices are big or wide, you might need longer than 15 minutes. Keep an eye on it and don't over-bake, as this cookie tends to dry out quickly. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely on a rack.
- Slowly melt the dark chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave till smooth.
- Dip the mandelbrot into the chocolate. For this you will need a rack with parchment paper below to protect your countertop. Pour the melted chocolate into a narrow container, so the chocolate pool is deep. Dip the mandebrot endwise to coat the lower half of each piece with chocolate. Let the excess chocolate drip off the bottom of the mandelbrot. Place the mandelbrot onto the rack to dry.
- You’ll need to leave the cookies for at least one hour to dry (they may take longer depending on the weather). Store in an airtight container in a cool part of the kitchen for up to 1 week. For a longer shelf life, wrap each individual cookie in foil, place in a sealed plastic bag, and refrigerate or freeze.