I love how different cultures wind up making such similar foods.
For instance, almost every culture I know has a potato, meat or cheese-filled pastry of some kind. We call them different names, but they’re all delicious. And while Italians call a particular kind of cookie “biscotti,” people of Jewish descent call a very similar cookie “mandel bread.”
Mandel bread, like biscotti, is sliced from a large log of cookie dough and then baked again to become toasted. However, its texture isn’t quite as crunchy. There’s a little more softness to a piece of mandel bread.
This is my mother-in-law’s recipe, one of my favorites from her collection. On Passover, options are limited. We can’t bake with flour or anything that has a bean, corn or rice base. Flour substitutes usually come in the form either of potato starch (yep, that exists) or ground up matza, a.k.a. matza meal. I use the cake meal in this recipe because it’s finer, like flour, and the potato starch.
Here’s the thing. I really hate the taste of matza. I know people love it, but that’s because they don’t have to eat it. I’ve spent years developing dessert recipes or finding other people’s recipes that specifically don’t have that aftertaste. And when I tried these at my mother-in-law’s house early in my marriage, I knew that this recipe was a winner.
It’s also incredibly easy. All the ingredients get mixed together in one bowl, there’s an hour of chilling time, and then you’re ready to roll. You don’t even have to use butter, much less melt it or cream it. The recipe requires oil instead.
Now, don’t be stingy with your chocolate chips. The only adjustment I’ve made to the original recipe is adding more, and my rationale couldn’t be purer. The chocolate hides the fact that you’re not dealing with flour. That’s it. And who ever objected to more chocolate chips?
Heck, you can even throw nuts in there. Do what you want. Just realize that good Passover desserts are few and far between. I’m going to be posting two more this week, so I hope they come in handy! If you’re on the matza train this week, have a great holiday. And for everyone else? Enjoy your flour!
Chocolate Chip Mandel Bread (Passover Edition!)
1 and 1/4 cup sugar
1 cup oil
2 cups matza cake meal
6 tablespoons potato starch
1 cup chocolate chips
1 teaspoon vanilla
- In a large bowl, beat the eggs. Add the sugar and oil, stirring until somewhat smooth. Add the remaining ingredients, mixing until a dough forms.
- Chill the mixture for one hour.
- When you're ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350. Line two cookie sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper.
- Divide the dough in half. Form each half into an oblong rectangular shape (shown sliced above). Bake for 15 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and slice the dough into strips. Return to the oven for 25-30 minutes until browned and crispy at the edges.
- Cool. Store in an airtight container.