This recipe is my Bubbie's (Grandmother in Yiddish) and she passed it down to my mom, and my mom passed it to me and my sister. Mandel bread appears at nearly every family gathering, weekly Shabbat dinners, and once my mom even sent it across the world to me when I lived in Israel.
It's an especially sentimental recipe for me because I use my Bubbie's Kitchen-Aid mixer that was given to me after she died in 2002. I smile everytime I use that mixer. I know there are other fancier models with all sorts of new attachments, but I love knowing that I'm using her mixer just like she would have wanted.
I'm sure I'll have other Bubbie recipes appear on here, but mandel bread is the family favorite.
The best way I can describe it is like a cross between a biscotti and a chocolate chip cookie. It's twice-baked in the way of biscotti, but it's softer and covered with cinnamon-sugar. The recipe is simple, but labor intensive. Ultimately, you can replace the chocolate chips with anything (nuts or fruits) or replace the vanilla with another flavor. But what can I say...I'm a traditionalist!
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
3 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup (approx) semisweet chocolate chips
Mix together oil and sugar until combined, and 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 and mix. Put the dough in the refrigerator for a few hours (at least 2) or overnight.
The dough will be extremely get-under-your-fingernails sticky, so oil your hands and form rows with the dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet. I made 3 rows. **UPDATE** this is a clear case of "Do as I say, not as I do!" The dough spreads when you bake it, so please make 4-5 rows instead. As you can see by my picture below, the 3 rows I made got pretty big. And yes, that's my ovenmitt print in the front row. We had an "incident." Everyone is okay though.
Bake at 350 for 25 minutes. Take the mandel bread out and turn the oven down to 250.
Combine about 1/2-3/4 cups of sugar with enough cinnamon to turn the mixture light brown. I like to use a flat dish, like a tart pan. It's best to eyeball this because it shouldn't be too brown or too white. Think Goldilocks - you want it juuuuuust right!
Slice the mandel bread into biscotti sized pieces (see above) and carefully roll each one into the cinn/sugar mixture. Put the pieces back on the cookie sheet, on their sides, and bake for another 15 minutes at 250. If the slices are big or wide, you might need longer than 15 minutes. Keep an eye on it because if it overbakes, it dries out quickly.