Jewish Biscotti My Grandmother Would Have Loved

Mandelbread is anything but new. It’s been a staple of Eastern European Jewish eating for centuries and a regular item at the Bakehouse for fifteen years or so. For whatever reason, I have a tendency to take mandelbread for granted. Maybe it’s the long history or the fact that I grew up with it. Or maybe I forget about it because I don’t eat a lot of sweets. Or because so much of the world’s mandelbread is, unfortunately, rather unremarkable. The good news is that literally almost every time I taste a piece of it, I’m reminded how incredibly good the Bakehouse version really is.

Basically you could start calling mandelbread “Jewish biscotti.” Butter, fresh orange and lemon zest, lots of whole toasted almonds, and real vanilla. We make them the old-fashioned way, forming a long “loaf,” baking it once, then slicing it crosswise and baking each slice once more again so it turns a nice golden brown on top. Finally each slice is then turned over again and baked in a final third position. (Most commercial versions are sliced before they even start baking, which changes the texture and flavor of the finished cookie.)

They’re great on their own, with coffee or tea, or perfect for an easy, light, after-dinner treat. You can also dip them into sweet wine (like the Tuscan Vin Santo) as well. On top of all that sweet goodness, they’re now packaged in a really nice new box, which I happen to love almost as much as I love the mandelbread. Makes them not only taste good, but also turns them into a super easy to give gift.

This post is part of a series of Ari’s Best Foods of 2011.