A few weeks ago I received a surprise in the mail, a box of cookies with a note from some friends saying they were joining in on Dorie Greenspan’s #cookiesforkindness project — to bake and to share and to be kind just because. How nice?
I immediately wanted to play along, so I made a double batch of Molly Yeh’s mandel bread with marzipan and sea salt from her new book, Molly on the Range, one topped with sprinkles, one with pearl sugar. I gathered all of my kindness-sharing supplies — kraft boxes, tissue paper, baker’s twine — and set up an assembly line to package the many delicious slices, but it soon became clear that the little ones in the house would not allow me to spread SO much kindness. The sprinkly treats disappeared before I could even think abut a post office run.
Mandel bread, also known as mandelbrodt, which literally means “almond bread”, is a traditional Jewish twice-baked cookie originating from Eastern Europe and, from what I gather, is typically softer than biscotti due to a higher amount of oil or butter. In Molly’s version, the loaves of dough are coated with sprinkles or pearl sugar AND sea salt just before baking, which makes them particularly addictive, and the inclusion of marzipan creates pockets of intense almond flavor and a lovely softness throughout, which speaks to my soft-batch-biscotti-loving heart.
Confession: I can’t blame my children for preventing me from sharing the cookie kindness: Having a jar of mandel bread on the counter has been such a treat every morning, the biggest incentive to prep the coffee every evening before going to bed, just the motivation I need to rise in the dark, tiptoe into the kitchen, and cozy up to the breakfast table before the chaos of the day begins.
Molly’s book, by the way, is so much fun — beautiful, joyful, playful, and creative, just like her blog. There are two amazing giveaways still happening over there if you preorder her book before October 4th: one for adorable tattoos, and one for sprinkles.
Have a wonderful weekend everyone!
Sprinkles + Sea Salt = Genius:
The recipe suggests a half cup of cacao nibs or dark chocolate, but I found a bar of this Sharffen Berger bar made with chocolate AND cacao nibs, which seemed like the best of both worlds, so I used it. And I also used almond paste in place of marzipan, which worked beautifully.
Batter with chocolate:
Very focused mandel bread eaters:
I've made two versions: one without chocolate topped with sprinkles and sea salt — these were the kids' favorite, probably because I used dark chocolate in the other one. I loved both, so tailor the fillings/toppings to your liking.
- 7 to 8 ounces marzipan or almond paste
- 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
- 3¼ cups (416 g) flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup flavorless oil
- 3 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon almond extract, optional—I didn't have any
- ½ cup cacao nibs or dark chocolate chips, optional, see notes above
- Flaky sea salt, for sprinkling
- Sprinkles or pearl sugar, for sprinkling
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
- Cut the marzipan into ½-inch pieces and toss with the powdered sugar. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar and oil until combined. Whisk in the eggs one at a time, and then whisk in the vanilla and almond extract, if using. Use a wooden spoon to gradually mix in the flour mixture, marzipan, and cacao nibs or chocolate chips. (This dough can be made the night before and stored in the refrigerator until ready to use.)
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Divide the dough into 2 equal portions and place on the lined baking sheet. Mold the dough into two 14 x 3-inch rectangles about 3 inches apart. Sprinkle the tops with a few pinches of sea salt and pearl sugar or sprinkles.
- Bake until the centers are set and the bottoms are lightly browned, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 250ºF. Let the mandel bread cool slightly and then use a sharp serrated knife to cut crosswise into 1-inch-thick slices. Turn the slices on their sides and bake for 20 more minutes, or until desired crispness. Let cool slightly and enjoy with coffee, hot chocolate, or tea.
Another peak into Molly on the Range: Egg in a Hole Perfection.
Toast the bread on both sides, add the egg, cover the pan, cook until done: