November 26, 2015

Mandelbrot

 

I'm a fan of anything that isn't too sweet and these yummy Mandelbrot fit the bill.  These Jewish cookies are the perfect snack and a great accompaniment to a cup of coffee or tea.  If you haven't heard of mandelbrot before they are very similar to Italian biscotti, except they're less likely to break your teeth!  

I found the recipe for these cookies on the blog, Goddess of Bakedom, from Sarabeth Levine.  She of her namesake jams, preserves and East Coast restaurants.   The literal translation of mandelbrot is "almond bread", but Sarabeth's version doesn't contain any nuts at all.   Rather, she fills her cookies with jam, which I think is a fantastic interpretation.  The dough can also be used to make another favorite Jewish cookie of mine, hamantaschen.  

I think my sugar-fearing relatives will definitely like these cookies.  They're going to be added to the list of holiday cookies I'm making this year.

Mandelbrot

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks)  unsalted butter,  at cool room temperature, cut into tablespoons
1 cup superfine sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 eggs, beaten
4 cups unbleached all- purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/3 cup orange juice
1/2 cup jam or preserves
1 egg beaten, for glaze Sprinkling sugar

Position racks in the center and top third of the oven and preheat to 350º F.  Line two half-sheet pans with parchment paper.
 
Beat the butter in the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer with the paddle attachment on medium high speed until the butter is smooth, about 1 minute. Add the sugar in two additions and beat, occasionally scraping down the bowl, Beat until light in color and texture, about 2 minutes. Gradually add the eggs and vanilla. 

Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a mixing bowl. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour mixture to the mixer in two additions, alternating with the orange juice. Mix just until the dough clumps together and the sides of the bowl are almost clean.
 
Gather up the dough and transfer to a lightly floured work surface. Knead a few times until smooth. Divide the dough in half  and shape each portion into a 1 inch thick rectangle and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 15-20 minutes. (The dough can be refrigerated up to 1 day, but it will be very hard, and should stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes before rolling out. The dough can also be frozen, double wrapped in plastic, for up to 2 weeks. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight. You can make both , or you can save one for another time.
  
Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Lightly flour the work surface. Unwrap the dough and rap the edges on the work surface (to help avoid cracking during rolling). Place the dough on the work surface and sprinkle the top with flour. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough into a 16 x 8 x 1/4-inch thick rectangle. Place the dough on a piece of parchment paper that is larger than the dough. Using a small offset metal spatula, spread 1/4 cup marmalade  over the dough leaving a 1/2-inch border around the edges. Fold the side edges over 1-inch and then fold the top edge over 1/3 of the dough and the bottom edge up 2/3 of the dough. (Using the parchment paper as a stretcher, carry the folded dough to the prepared half-sheet pan, and carefully turn the dough over, seam side down, onto the tray. Repeat with the second piece of dough and place on the other prepared pan. Lightly brush the loaves with the beaten egg. Sprinkle with the sprinkling sugar.
 
Bake until golden brown, about 25-30 minutes. Cool on the tray for 10 minutes. 

While the mandelbrot are still warm, using a serrated edged knife, cut them on a slight angle into 1-inch pieces, This will prevent the pieces from breaking. Place the cookies on a parchment covered half-sheet pan. Return to the oven and lightly toast, about 8-10 minutes. Cool completely. (Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.)

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