Nut Sticks, aka Mandel Bread, aka Mandelbrot
I’m an Ashkenazi Jew. My fiancé is Italian-American. Our ancestral food cultures—meat-and-potatoes kosher versus Mediterranean Treif City—have just about nothing in common, beyond the fact that both of our people eat bread and drink wine. (When it comes to the latter, his people’s is definitely better.) But there is one dish that connects our respective backgrounds, the center of the Jewish/Italian Venn diagram—a dry, almond-speckled cookie that old ladies of both the Catholic and the Jewish persuasion have been pushing on reluctant kids for billions of years (rough estimation). Yep, biscotti are pretty much the exact same thing as mandel bread, also known as mandelbrot.
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup neutral oil, such as canola
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
- 3½ cups unsifted flour
- 1 cup chopped nuts (almonds are most traditional)
- Cinnamon and nutmeg, for sprinkling
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Beat eggs until light and fluffy. Add sugar gradually. Add oil, baking powder, baking soda, vanilla, flour and salt. Mix well. Add nuts.
- The dough will seem too loose to manipulate with bare hands; it isn’t. Just flour your hands well and keep mixing; it should get firm enough to handle pretty quickly. If not, a brief rest in the fridge should help.
- When dough is firm, divide into four equal sections. Place two sections of dough on each of two greased cookie sheets. Pat each section so that it is long and flat (and about ¼-inch thick). Dust the loaves with cinnamon and nutmeg.
- Bake loaves for 30 minutes. Remove, and wait until the loaves are cool enough to handle. Then cut each into 1-inch slices. Place those slices on their sides on the cookie sheet, cut-side up. At this point, the cookies won’t spread, so you can pack them as closely together as you need to. Return to oven for 10 more minutes, and dust with more cinnamon or nutmeg, if you feel like it.