I saw this great instructional, step-by-step post from Bakers' Banter a few weeks ago, and it occurred to me that I hadn't made mandel bread in a zillion years. As PJ explains, mandel bread are like the Jewish equivalent of biscotti. I always associate biscotti with anise flavor, which I don't like. And actually, mandel bread, like biscotti, cry out for coffee, which I don't drink. Moreover, I don't like chocolate and nuts together. But in the spirit of 1) an easy recipe I could stir together quickly and 2) my recent dive into Jewish baking, I thought they would be fun to make.
Growing up, we always made them with chocolate chips, though we sprinkled them with cinnamon sugar instead of large sugar crystals. I liked the crunchiness of the sugar on this version. (I used demerara sugar, which is light brown and a little more caramely than white sugar crystals - just because that's what I have in the house.) Also, PJ's method is a little easier than my family recipe. Mandel bread are baked twice - first as a log, and then they are cut, separated, and baked again. Historically, we would cut them, flip them onto their sides, bake 5 or so minutes, then flip them 180 degrees onto their other sides, and bake an additional 5 or so minutes. That's a lot of flipping hot cookies. This way, you just cut them, pull them apart a bit, and stick them back in the oven. Way easier.
After baking so long, the final cookie is hard and crumbly. I'm almost tempted to pull some of them out of the oven after the first bake next time, leaving them softer and chewier. Never tried it, but I'll assume the taste would be nice.
I can't find my family recipe, so I'm not sure how this one compares to it, but the taste is certainly what I remember. In fact, these may be even chocolatier, and you can't go wrong there. Here's the King Arthur's Flour recipe I used.
Funny, Hilary just posted about mandel bread, too. She and I must've been on the same wavelength. Hi, Hil!