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Mandelbread: The Cookie Underdog

By Sara Whipple, Zingerman’s Bakehouse

Maybe I'm a sucker for underdogs (if it's possible for a cookie to be an underdog—they're all winners in my book!). But for reasons I can't understand, in all my years of baking and selling food for Zingerman's Bakehouse mandelbread has never been that popular. It's at the top of my go-to list for a snack or a gift!

Mandelbread, also known as mandelbrot, is our surprisingly amazing citrus almond cookie Eastern European origins. You might recognize them as biscotti. Mandelbrot in Yiddish translates to almond bread in English. But they’re so much more than that. It is not too sweet, not overly brittle, but certainly full of great flavor and crunch. The perfect partner to your morning or afternoon hot drink of choice.

The key to our mandelbread is the fresh lemon and orange zest, coupled with the almonds that are blanched (so they're skinless) and toasted (so they have maximum flavor). Those vibrant ingredients are held together with our staples of great baking: organic wheat flour, sweet cream Wisconsin butter, fresh eggs, cane sugar, and Madagascar bourbon vanilla.

All those tasty ingredients come together to be rolled and baked. Then each loaf is hand sliced on the bias and baked again to a golden blonde. It all adds up to a toasty twice baked cookie unlike any other. And all that extra attention pays off in each bite. Their flavor is big, bright, rich and satisfying.

 

Mandelbrot certainly have staying power too. They’re texture lends itself to lasting in a jar or a box. Although, why would you want to keep them around for very long when you could be eating them?! It’s been said these cookies were popular in Eastern Europe among rabbis, merchants and other itinerant Jews, as a staple dessert that kept well. Perhaps that was also because they are so portable.

I find them sturdy enough to carry on a plane or ship as a gift, tasty enough to liven up any boring coffee break or meeting, and even a convenient bereavement offering in my experience (just open the box and serve, no knives or plates needed). But most of all I just love curling up with a piece of mandelbread, a cup of hot black tea, and a blanket, while watching it snow outside! Each and every time, I am taken aback by just how good these cookies are.

And when you're done gobbling them up, check the bottom of your package to see if you're lucky enough to have a few crumbles and almonds that have broken loose. Don’t you dare throw them out! Those are crunchy bits of flavor gold! Pour them on yogurt or a bowl of fresh fruit. It's the best!

 

---Send a gift box of mandelbread