Tips: Mandelbrot are the Jewish equivalent
of biscotti, and there are innumerable variations on this theme.
Traditionally, I believe, the recipe for mandelbrot includes oil
and almonds and is flavored with almond extract. I adore almonds,
but they make the mandelbrot even more difficult to slice than it
already is, so Ive substituted walnuts (and a large quantity
of walnuts) here. The chocolate flavor comes from two sourcesDutch
process cocoa and bittersweet chocolate.
These are not too sweet, crunchy, and very chocolateperfect
for dunking into coffee, tea, or milk. While these must age at least
overnight before theyre served, theyll keep for at least
two weeks at room temperature if stored airtight, so they make a
great do ahead dessert. Youll need an electric
stand mixer, large cookie sheets, and parchment paper for baking,
as well as a large, very sharp, serrated knife to slice the mandelbrot.
These require time and some patience, but I think they are well
- 2-1/2 cups plus 2 Tbsp. sifted all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder
- 1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1/8 tsp. salt
- 4 ounces good-quality bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 1-1/4 cups granulated sugar, divided
- 1/3 cup safflower OR corn oil
- Grated zest 1 large orange
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 3 eggs, graded large, preferably at room temperature
- 2 cups coarsely chopped walnuts
Adjust oven racks to divide oven into thirds; preheat
oven to 300 degrees F. Line two large cookies sheets (17-1/2 by
12-1/2 inches) and two smaller (15-1/2 by 10-1/2 inches) cookie
sheets with parchment paper. Reserve the two smaller cookie sheets
for the mandelbrots second baking; place the two large cookies
sheets next to one another on a large, flat worksurface. Have ready
a ruler. Tear off a piece of wax paper about 16 inches long and
place it next to one of the large lined cookie sheets. Sift a fine
coating of flour onto a large area of the wax paper; keep the flour
and your sifter nearby.
Into medium bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder,
baking powder, and salt. Set aside. In workbowl of food processor
fitted with steel blade, combine 1/4 cup sugar (reserve remainder)
and chopped chocolate. At high speed, process in brief bursts of
15 seconds each until chocolate is finely ground. Set aside.
In large bowl of electric mixer fitted with paddle
beater, combine remaining 1 cup granulated sugar with oil, orange
zest, and vanilla. Beat at medium speed until well-mixed. Add eggs
one at a time, beating at a low speed until each is blended in.
Still beating at a low speed, add half of sifted dry
ingredients. Scrape bowl and beater(s) thoroughly. Add ground chocolate-sugar
mixture and blend in; again scrape bowl and beater(s). Add remaining
dry ingredients; if necessary, increase mixer speed slightly to
combine ingredients. Add walnuts and blend in only until evenly
distributed. The dough will be very thick and sticky.
Scrape dough onto floured sheet of wax paper. With
lightly floured knife, divide dough into quarters. Working with
one quarter at a time and keeping your hands lightly floured as
necessary, form each quarter into a thick rope about 8 inches long.
Place rope on a lined large cookie sheet, parallel to a short end
but several inches away from that end. Flatten rope into a rectangle
approximately 8-1/2 inches long by 2-1/2 inches wide by 1/2 inch
thick; the exact dimensions are not critical, especially as these
will spread somewhat during baking. Repeat with remaining quarters
of dough. When done, you should have 4 rectangles on the two large,
lined cookie sheets; each rectangle should be several inches from
its neighbor on that sheet as well as several inches away from (and
parallel to) a short end of the sheet. If there is excess flour
on any of the rectangles, use a dry pastry brush to gently sweep
it away. Place in preheated oven.
Bake about 30 minutes. After 15 minutes, switch pans
back-to-front and between racks. The rectangles will spread and
lose their raw look; they may also develop some cracks in their
top surfaces. Remove baking sheets to cooling racks. REDUCE OVEN
TEMPERATURE TO 250 DEGREES F.
While rectangles are still hot, they will be sliced.
Carefully remove the parchment paper (with the rectangles still
on it) from the hot baking sheets; if its easier for you,
cut the parchment paper in half to do this, so that each half contains
one rectangle. Place the rectangles, still on parchment paper, on
cooling racks while they wait to be sliced.
Slice one rectangle at a time on a cutting board.
Youll need a very sharp serrated knife. These cannot be sliced
as thin as some other mandelbrot Ive seen; the thinnest I
can manage is about 2/3 to 3/4 of an inch. Youll have to experiment
with cutting techniques to see what works best for you. Sometimes,
if I cut very gently with a sawing motion, that works best; on other
occasions, Ill cut very gently with a sawing motion through
about the top third, then, if the mandelbrot start to crack or split,
I press the knife straight down through them. In any case, expect
a few mandelbrot to emerge broken from this processits
no big deal.
When each rectangle has been cut, loosen the slices
gently from the parchment paper with a broad-bladed metal spatula.
Transfer the slices gently to one of the 15-1/2 by 10-1/2 lined
cookie sheets, placing each cut side down; the slices can be placed
very close to one another. I place the slices from two rectangles
on each baking sheet, and they fit handily. When youre done
slicing and all the slices have been placed on a baking sheet, place
the filled baking sheets into the 250 degree oven.
Bake for 10 to 11 minutes. If pressed gently, the
cut side facing up may still feel semisoft, but these will crisp
as they cool. Switch sheets back-to-front and between racks. In
addition, working with one sheet at a time, carefully and gently
flip mandelbrot so the cut side that was down is now facing up.
Bake an additional 10 to 11 minutes.
Remove sheets to cooling racks. With broad-bladed
metal spatula, place individual mandelbrot on other racks. Cool
completely before storing airtight at room temperature; store at
least overnight before serving.
Yields: 36 to 40 mandelbrot
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