For many years I considered mandelbread the single easiest traditional Jewish dessert to bake—until I traveled to Rome and discovered this tasty Italian cookie. Instead of shaping the dough into two nice loaves, baking and slicing, here you just press the dough into the pan and you’re done. To serve, you place it on the table and everyone breaks off pieces. I usually leave it on the island in my kitchen during Rosh Hashanah and every time someone walks by, they grab another piece. Another bonus to this recipe is that you can use any nut or dried fruit that you already have, so it is very economical. I call this dessert “the ugliest dessert you will ever love,” but it is tasty and crunchy and the perfect holiday snack. Reprinted with permission from The Holiday Kosher Baker (Sterling 2013).
- ¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 egg white
- 4¼ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup sugar
- ¾ cup dark raisins soaked in 1 cup sweet wine for 10 minutes (you can also use purple grape juice)
- 1 cup whole almonds, with skins
- ½ cup dried apricots, chopped
- ½ cup pine nuts
- ¼ cup dried cranberries, chopped
- ½ cup golden raisins
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cover a jellyroll pan with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Set aside. Place the olive oil, egg white, flour, salt and sugar into a large mixing bowl and mix. The mixture will resemble very dry crumbs. Add the raisins and wine and mix with a wooden spoon or your hands. Add the almonds, apricots, pine nuts, cranberries and golden raisins and mix with your hands until combined. Dump onto your prepared cookie sheet and shape into a large oval or rectangle, almost the size of the cookie sheet. Pat the top down. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until browned. Let cool. To eat, break into pieces. Store at room temperature for up to 5 days, if it lasts that long.