Bubbie Ruth’s Mandel Bread

Mandelbrot cookies are an Ashkenazi Jewish dessert dating back to the early nineteenth century. Mandelbrot are closely related to the Italian cookies known as biscotti, which were first made in the Middle Ages. The word mandelbrot means almond (mandel) and bread (brot) in both German and Yiddish. In America, these tasty little cookies are known as mandel bread. Typically mandel bread are twice-baked, which makes them crispy and crunchy. They’re perfect for dipping in your tea or coffee. Because most of the moisture is baked out of them, they also have a fairly long shelf life.

The origin of Jewish mandelbrot is a bit of a mystery, though there are many theories on how and when the cookie was adopted by Ashkenazi Jewish cooks. In the wonderful book Jewish Cooking in America, Joan Nathan writes about the history of mandelbrot cookies and their similarity to other cookies made in Europe and Eastern Europe:

“With a large Jewish population in Piedmont, Italy may have been the place where Jews first tasted biscotti and later brought them to Europe where they called them mandelbrot, which literally means almond bread. In the Ukraine, a similar cookie not necessarily with almonds but made at home, thuskamish, was served. In Italy they are often eaten as a dessert dipped into wine or grappa. In Eastern Europe Jews dipped them into a glass of tea, and because they include no butter and are easily kept they became a good Sabbath dessert.”

Piedmont Italy, where mandelbrot may have originated

Today’s simple and tasty recipe for mandel bread comes to us courtesy of blog reader Beth Steiner. Beth writes a cooking blog called Someone’s in the Kitchen with Brina. Beth’s Hebrew name is Brina; her blog focuses on easy kosher recipes. Her family dish, Bubbie Ruth’s Mandel Bread, won an honorable mention in last year’s Kosher Recipe Contest. It’s a great basic recipe that uses chocolate chips to sweeten the cookies (which makes it a dairy dish, unless you’re using pareve dairy-free chocolate chips). The recipe is also quite versatile; the chocolate chips can be replaced or used in combination with other sweet “add-ins” to enhance the flavor of the cookie. Since mandelbrot literally means almond bread, the most traditional add-in would be chopped or slivered almonds. Other options include chopped walnuts or pecans, dried or candied fruits like raisins, white chocolate chips, or a combination of those ingredients. You can also add ¼ cup of cocoa powder to make brown-hued chocolate mandel bread.

Beth Steiner, who writes the cooking blog “Someone’s in the Kitchen with Brina,” in the kitchen cooking a kosher meal

Of this recipe, Beth said:

“My father’s mother, Bubbie Ruth, was an amazing cook and baker. One of my favorite memories is working in her kitchen, patting rolls of mandel bread dough into the baking pan. She would always bring a fresh batch with her when she and my Zadie came to visit from Florida. After Bubbie died in 2002, my mom took over the recipe and always stores it in her special mandel bread tin. She would send it to my sister at college and once sent me a huge batch when I was living abroad in Israel. Bubbie Ruth’s Mandel Bread is a staple at every family gathering. I have her KitchenAid mixer and every time I use it to make her mandel bread, I feel close to her all over again.”

Beth’s Bubbie Ruth

For today’s blog, I used my KitchenAid mixer in memory of Beth’s Bubbie Ruth. You can use an electric hand mixer if you prefer. Note that I’ve included a Soft Mandel Bread Variation at the end of the recipe for those who prefer a softer version of this cookie.

A special thanks to Beth for sharing this delicious recipe with the Shiksa in the Kitchen blog!

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Bubbie Ruth's Mandel Bread

Ingredients

  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (you can sub chopped nuts, candied fruits, etc.)
  • Ground cinnamon and granulated sugar for dusting

You will also need

  • Electric hand or stand mixer, mixing bowl, plastic wrap, cookie sheets
Servings: 35-40 mandel bread
Kosher Key: Dairy or Pareve depending on add-ins
  • Mix together oil and sugar until combined, then add eggs one at a time. After the eggs are combined, add vanilla.
  • Sift together all the dry ingredients and add them slowly to the sugar/egg mixture.
  • Once the dough is smooth and sticky, pour the chocolate chips in and mix.
  • Cover the dough with plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator for a few hours (at least 2) or overnight.
  • Lightly oil your hands and form 4 long rows with the dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet (I line the cookie sheet with parchment paper for easy cleanup). Each strip of dough should be 3-4 inches wide. They will spread out a lot during cooking, so make sure you leave enough space between the rows.
  • Bake at 350 for 25 minutes. While mandel bread is baking, in a flat shallow dish, combine ¾ cup of sugar with enough cinnamon to turn the mixture light brown. It’s best to eyeball this – it shouldn’t be too brown or too white.
  • Take the mandel bread out and turn the oven down to 250 degrees F. Slice the mandel bread into biscotti sized pieces.
  • Roll each cookie into the cinnamon sugar mixture. Put the pieces back on the cookie sheet on their sides.
  • Bake for another 15 minutes until they’ve achieved the texture you desire. The longer they stay in the oven, the crisper they will be. If the slices are big or wide, you might need longer than 15 minutes. Keep an eye on it and don’t over-bake, as this cookie tends to dry out quickly. Store in an airtight container.
  • Soft Mandel Bread Variation: I’ve had a few blog readers ask for a “Soft Mandel Bread” recipe. This is a bit of a contradiction in terms, since mandel bread are traditionally twice-baked to achieve a crispy texture. However, you can use this recipe to make a softer cookie by only baking it for 25 minutes and skipping the second 15 minute baking cycle (which in essence “toasts” the cookies). Just make sure your cookies have baked all the way through after the first baking cycle – if the center of the cookies appear moist, bake for another few minutes until fully cooked. Keep a close eye on the cookies to make sure they don’t over-bake. This will give you a “soft” mandel bread cookie.
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Category: Baked Goods and Brunch Fare, Dairy, Desserts, In the Kitchen, Pareve, Recipes, Tomato Free, Vegetarian

Comments (58)Post a Comment

  1. Barbara Erdman says:

    Yum these look great :)

  2. These look really good and easy to do. I’m going to have to try them very soon. Thanks for sharing, I really love old family recipes.

  3. aanita sherman says:

    thanks i will try these tomorrow

  4. Brenda22 says:

    love this! — Yummy!

  5. Marc Gelmon says:

    We call these kamishbroigt here in Vancouver. Love them whatever their called!

  6. Larry "The Wizard" Siegfried says:

    Yummy .. My Mother makes Mandel Bread from my Bubbie Helen’s {A”S} recipe .. Just checked .. seems that our Bubbie’s must of gone to the same baking school..lol.. They are exactly the same…:)) I can tell you know Good Mandel Bread;-)
    Shalom, Larry…

  7. My sister makes these. They are great with petachio (sp?) nuts stuck in them, a variation of the traditional almonds, and also I like the melted chocolate morsels drizzled over the twice baked biscotti. I like that better than the sugar/cinnamon mix.

  8. Saundra Greenberg Bromberg says:

    This recipe was passed on to other members of the family. I am Beth’s second cousin and all of us including our friends and extended family make this recipe. I too make it and send it along to my step children right before Rosh Hashanna in tins. It’s a family favorite. My mom Shirley, Aunt Ruth’s sister in law (Beth’s bubbe) makes it all the time, puts it in the freezer to have all year round. My brothers and I know to come to the freezer in my 86 year old mother’s home to steal a taste. She, like my Aunt Ruth is an amazing baker and cook. Thanks Beth for posting. It’s a great family tradition that will live on for generations to come.

  9. Sylvia Mond says:

    Can you give me a breakdown of the calorie count please

    • Tori Avey says:

      Saundra thanks for writing! It was so nice of Beth to share this recipe, it is truly delicious.

      Barbara, using pistachios and drizzling in chocolate is a totally mouth-watering idea, I think I’ll have to try it that way next time. :)

      Sylvia, I don’t currently offer nutrition information for my recipes, but there are many recipe calculators online that will let you input the information to find the calorie breakdown. Here is a link to one of those sites if you want to try it:

      link to recipes.sparkpeople.com

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  11. Beth Steiner says:

    I am so glad you like this family favorite! Bubbie Ruth would be honored.

  12. Anonymous says:

    I made these a few days before Christmas. A mouth watering whole-wheat biscotti with nuts and dried fruit inspired..hmmmm soo yummy!

  13. Eleanor Boxerman says:

    I’m thrilled to read the story of Beth Steiner’s mandel bread. I am Bobie Ruth’s sister, the only remaining one of the four Glazer daughters. We all made this recipe,which we learned from our mother Bess, with some variations. Evelyn added lemon juice and lemon or orange zest. Sylvia’s daughter Julie taught me to use baking Splenda to cut the sugar level. We all added pareve chocolate chips. I dropped the cinnamon/sugar in recent years because of dietary issues but still toast them. I also add almond flavor.
    Thanks beth!

  14. Ada Golden says:

    Gosh, Bubbie Ruth’s mandel bread truly is the best! I am Beth’s sister and I grew up noshing on this stuff. It is a family tradition that I am so happy to be a part of. My 3 year old son has recently discovered mandel bread and he loves it!

  15. Sherry Wolf says:

    I am Beth’s aunt and have also made this recipe for the last 18 years. You can’t go wrong if you follow each step…it is the best mandel bread you will ever have. I have also made it gluten-free, by using rice flour instead of wheat flour.

    For those of you that didn’t know Ruth she was an amazing woman. Not only was she my mother-in-law, but she was my good friend. I miss her and think of her often.

    Thanks Beth for sharing this wonderful recipe and a little about Bubbe and her special love for baking.

  16. Helene Greenberg says:

    Thanks Beth for keeping up the tradition of joyful baking and making this wonderful family recipe available to your blog readers – l’dor va dor. Bubbe would be kvelling. Love, Mom

  17. terri says:

    I have a question. When I make my Passover mandel bread when it is done cooling it is hard and crisp. I then transfer it to Rubbermaid or Tupperware containers and then the next day when I go to put it out on platters it has become soft. Any idea how I can keep it crunchy?

    • Tori Avey says:

      Terri – try preheating the oven to 350 degrees F and re-toasting the mandel bread for a few minutes till crisp prior to serving. Keep an eye on them to make sure they don’t get too dark or burn.

    • Florence says:

      Terri – They will stay hard and crisp if they are stored in a metal container – such as an empty coffee can – I use an empty Keebler soda cracker tin because I like to make a double recipe. Make sure they are completely cool before storing.

  18. Juju says:

    This looks amazing! I have all the ingredients, except for the sugar! I wonder if I can substitute it with agave or honey??.. I need to make this =]

  19. Deb says:

    To Terri,
    Are you putting your mandel bread in Tupperware before they are completely cooled? Any bit of warmth in them will develop steam in a covered container. (I speak from experience!) They need to be totally cool, no trace of warmth at all!

  20. Lorraine says:

    This sounds unbelievable! I’m going to make the soft version with sliced or slivered almonds, almond extract & possibly (probably) diced candied orange peel.

    To all the members of Bubbie Ruth’s family, all your comments put me in mind of the family who did “The Gefilte Fish Chronicles”. I wish there were more of my family who really loved to cook like I do. Thanks for the recipe.

    To Terri: Where do you live? Living in South Florida, I’m always conscious of things that start out dry but turn soft. If you live in a very humid climate, you might try leaving the fully cooled cookies on a rack overnight before you close them up. Good luck.

  21. Mona says:

    The dough is in fridge…been looking for my nana’s recipe and this may be the exact same one ! I was excited to see the softer variation as that is how she made it, with a sugary, vanilla glaze over the top. I haven’t found anyone else who was raised with the soft version, and must be related to the Eastern European shtetls/villages they came from ! Hope it bakes off as good as it sounds ….thanks so much for posting.

  22. Lori says:

    I am so excited to try this recipe! My bubby recently passed and none of us were able to duplicate her amazing mandel bread. She always loaded them up with chocolate chips and they were absolutely amazing! I am going to try this recipe this weekend!!!

  23. Thank you Bubbie! I made these and tweaked it a little: I used 1/2 cup Sugar substitute that rhymes with ‘Brenda’. And 1/2 cup of brown sugar. Then, folded in a couple of teaspoons of ordinary strawberry jam into the dough, like my mom used to. I also followed your advice, being a ‘soft cookie’ guy and kept them in few more minutes. Perfect!

  24. Tammy says:

    I saw someone ask about honey or agave, those ingredients would add moisture to the cookies, might not make them as crispy as you would like.

  25. Beth says:

    Tammy, I agree. Honey/agave won’t give you the same texture in the final mandel. However, that doesn’t mean it still won’t taste good!

    I love seeing all these people enjoying my Bubbie’s recipe :-)

  26. Joni says:

    I know that I can freeze this, my question is when do I do that? After its twice baked and sprinkled with cinnamon/sugar or drizzled with chocolate; or before they are twice baked?

    Does freezing change the crispiness?

    • Beth says:

      Joni, Bubbie would freeze it after it was fully baked! Just let it come to room temp (or nibble on them cold, like I used to when I was little).

  27. .abrilo says:

    Your Grandma Ruth must have gotten this recipe from my Grandma Rose, because it is suspiciously exactly the same, and I have known it for 50 years, and have never seen your site before today!
    It is a great recipe!

  28. Ronnie says:

    Unbelievable recipe.
    Thanks so much!
    DELICIOUS & ADDICTING!!

  29. Linda Gabrilo says:

    Have any of you ever made this with a substitute for the eggs, and if yes, what did you use?
    I have been trying to make a good tasting vegan version, but have not been happily & totally successful.

  30. My mother died 5 years and took with her our favorite Mandel bread recipe. She made the best every year for the high holidays. We would not eat it any other time during the year so it was an extra special treat. I made your recipe hoping it was close to my mother’s. It tastes exactly the same. Thank you so much for sharing. I make this recipe when I am having an extra hard time missing my Mom. Thank you!

  31. elain genser says:

    I am a bit confused. I love mandelbrot, and make it often, however your basic recipe has no ‘mandel’ (almonds) in it at all… the recipe I got from my Bubba used ground almonds as well as chopped almonds. This recipe is definitely more of a biscotti recipe.

    • Tori Avey says:

      Elain, as the blog above states, you can add in chopped almonds, which would be the most traditional addition. Many modern American mandelbrot recipes omit the almonds in favor of dried fruit or chocolate chips, however they are still culturally referred to as mandelbrot because they evolved from Jewish Eastern European almond cookies (hence the German/Yiddish name mandelbrot). Biscotti and mandelbrot are closely related, as you’ll read above, and one could argue that the two are one and the same– many biscotti recipes contain almonds, too, but they are still referred to as biscotti. What you call the cookies depends on your family ancestry, and how the recipe has evolved in your family.

  32. Jessica Spillane says:

    I’ve made this several times and LOVE it! I’ve started experimenting with it and made a pumpkin/date version and a vanilla chai version. Both were delicious! Thanks for the recipe.

  33. Sharon says:

    Have searched for my Bubbie’s recipe for years. Then I found this one. The aroma (subbed Almond Extract and Yellow Raisins) of almond mandel bread filled the house and my sweet Bubbie, long gone, returned once again to my kitchen. I could almost see her smiling!

    Thank you Beth…have made this easy recipe four times now and it’s perfect every time!

  34. Mike says:

    Thanks for this recipe. I’d love to try it out soon, but I was wondering what attachment you use in the kitchenaid. It looks like the whisk in the picture where you’re combining the oil and sugar. Do you switch to the paddle when you add the flour, or do you use the whisk for the entire time? Thanks!

  35. jessamyn says:

    Made these today. Used dried apricots and cranberries in place of chocolate chips and added a teaspoon of maple syrup. Was looking for something to do with some high grade cinnamon and this was perfect. Thanks.

  36. Deena Angstreich says:

    I love your website, but I don’t get how Mandelbrot can be made without Almonds!! If I’m not mistaken Mandel means almonds, no? I’m sure these cookies are delicious, but they can’t be called Mandelbrot in the traditional sense….Did I miss something?
    Thanks
    Deena

    • Tori Avey says:

      Hi Deena, you are correct that mandel means almonds. If you read the introduction to the recipe above, you’ll note that you can add in chopped almonds, which is the most “traditional” add-in. Many modern American mandelbrot recipes omit the almonds in favor of dried fruit or chocolate chips, however they are still culturally referred to as mandelbrot because they evolved from Jewish Eastern European almond cookies (hence the German/Yiddish name mandelbrot).

  37. Julie says:

    Has anyone ever tried to substitute a little applesauce for some of the oil? I know it would change the consistency… just wondering if a little subbing could still be okay! (I’m diabetic and nutrition-conscious!)

  38. Midge Weinberg says:

    Terrific! Thank you so much Beth

  39. Maxie Harris Wiggs says:

    I’ve ben searching for a crisp Mondel bread an will make this tomorrow. It sounds great. I prefer zest of lemon and orange

  40. maxie says:

    I baked three batches of this Mondel Bread and it’s delishous. Only problem is it’s not crispy, once cooled. Tried baking longer than 15 min second time, more like one hour at 250 and this worked. How can I store to keep crisp?

    • Beth says:

      Maxie – it’s not supposed to be biscotti-crisp when it’s done. It’s softer than a biscotti, and closer to cookie-like texture. I actually prefer it softer!

  41. Harriet says:

    Thanks Beth, I have a similar recipe but yours are better. I didn’t use chocolate chips and the cookies are not sweet. I put in a cup of walnuts and 6 oz. candied cherries. Next time I’ll try the chips. I especially like the idea of using lightly oiled hands to shape this as “dusting hands with flour” just makes a sticky mess. Thanks again. Harriet

  42. Harriet says:

    We live at 7500 feet. Does this recipe need to be altered for the altitude? If so, how? We love mandelbrot and haven’t had it since our dear friend died. She wanted to teach me but I decided it was much better to have Dorothy make them for us.

  43. Joan Levy says:

    I have been making a Mandel Broit recipe for over 50 years but my recipe calls for 3/4 cup of oil and does not have to be refrigerated. I have also adapted and made a triple chocolate one if anyone is interested in having the recipe and also fooling around with a gluten free recipe for this. Some success but still tweaking it a little.

  44. Gayle says:

    I am going to try these. They sound like the recipe my mother used to make. Thanks.

  45. Nicole Romero says:

    I just made these tonight for my Family for the Holidays and drizzled melted white chocolate on top. I used cranberries and sliced almonds and they are amazing!! Thank you for sharing

  46. Meredith says:

    Can I use almond extract instead of vanilla if I am using chopped almonds instead of chocolate chips?

  47. Joan Levy says:

    You might try anise extract or anise seeds with a little lemom zest which is very nice

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