Dueling Mandel Bread: Baba’s Chocolate Chip v. Bubbe’s Pistachio Blueberry
My mother and I baked mandel bread to use up the last bit of our flour. My mother made a variation on my grandmother’s recipe and I played around with a recipe from Locke Hughes’s Baba, Daye Glassman.
And I finally used up the last of my flour!
The results: the pistachio blueberry mandel bread had a zingier flavor (from the dried fruit and orange zest and juice), but the chocolate chip mandelbread had an especially nice melt-in-your-mouth texture–dry but not too hard.
Bubbe’s Pistachio Blueberry Mandel Bread
Adapted by my mother from my grandmother’s recipe for mandel bread. My mother adds in some orange juice, inspired by how my grandmother’s friend Gert Cohen used to make mandel bread, and she adds cinnamon sugar which came from someone else. My mom used dried blueberries and pistachios because she had them left over from Purim (from the shul’s mishloach manot). Instead of blueberry craisins and pistachios, you can use 1 cup each of raisins, walnuts and chocolate chips.
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. almond extract (optional)
1/2 tsp. cinnamon (optional)
2/3 cup oil
1/4 cup orange juice (optional)
zest from one orange
3 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 cup blueberry craisins
1 cup pistachios
cinnamon sugar for sprinkling on top before baking and after slicing (my mother wings this; see recipe below for cinnamon sugar recipe)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs and add sugar, salt, vanilla (and almond extract, if using).
Add oil and orange juice.
In a small bowl, mix together flour and baking powder (and cinnamon, if using). Add the flour to the egg mixture and stir to completely incorporate. Add dried fruit and nuts.
On a baking sheet lined with parchment or nonstick foil, make three narrow rolls . Use wet knife to smooth surface of
rolls. Moisten each loaf’s surface slightly. Sprinkle the loaves with cinnamon sugar. Bake 30 minutes at 375 degrees, then remove the loaves from the oven.
Cut the warm loaves into 3/4″ slices, and turn slices on their sides on the baking sheet. Return the pan to the oven, turn off the oven after five minutes, and let the cookies bake in the oven for about 15-20 minutes. Remove baking sheet from oven and let cookies cool on a baking rack.
Chocolate Chunk Mandel Bread
Loosely adapted from Locke Hughes’s Baba’s recipe for chocolate chip mandel bread, as published in Woman’s Day magazine, December 2012.
1 cup safflower oil
3/4 cup sugar (6 ounces)
2 tsp. vanilla (double the amount of the original, but I love vanilla)
1/2 tsp. almond extract (optional; not in original recipe, but I left out the cup of walnuts and wanted to give some nut flavor)
3 /14 cups flour (14.5 ounces)
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. sea salt (or 1/2 tsp. kosher salt)
(original recipe calls for adding 1/2 tsp. cinnamon to the dough, but I left this out)
6-7 ounces chopped bittersweet chocolate (2 bars–or you can use the cup of chocolate chips the recipe originally called for)
cinnamon sugar: 1/2 cup sugar plus 1 tsp. cinnamon
In a mixing bowl, beat together the eggs, oil and sugar. Add the vanilla (and almond extract, if using)
In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Mix the dry ingredients into the egg/oil/sugar mixture. Stir until the flour is fully incorporated into the egg/oil/sugar mixture. You will have a soft, sticky dough.
Stir in the chocolate.
The recipe calls for forming the dough into six 2″ wide logs and then rolling them in cinnamon sugar. This shaping process was a bit messy. The dough is sticky, and while rolling them in cinnamon sugar helped make them less sticky, the dough still stuck to my hands. The solution was shaping the dough with wet hands, which solved the stickiness problem.
Place the logs on a parchment lined baking sheet (actually, I shaped them on the parchment lined sheet). Bake for 15-20 minutes at 375 degrees, until golden brown and set (I let the logs bake for 25 minutes). Let the logs cool for 20 minutes, then slice them into 3/4″ slices (the recipe says to slice on a slight diagonal, but cutting straight slices is fine, too). I got about 5 dozen slices, but yield should vary depending on how you shape and slice the logs.
Put the slices cut side up on the baking sheet and place in a 350 degree oven to baking for an additional 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown (Actually, I turned off the oven when I took out the loaves out to slice them. When I put them back into the oven, the temperature had dropped to 300 degrees and, when I took them out 20 minutes later, the temperature had dropped to 200 degrees. The slices were not toasted looking–just drier and crunchier. I think it is better to use a cooler oven to crisp up the slices when you use chopped chocolate in the dough, because chocolate is sensitive to heat and I find that too much heat scorches the chocolate.)
Make about 5 dozen cookies.