Das Bröt!-Pecan Mandelbröt- 12 eggs, 5-1/4 cups of sugar, 4 1/4 sticks of Butter, and 6 cups of flour used so far- 169 recipes to go!

March 15, 2010

Martha's Pecan Mandelbrot

André's Pecan Mandelbrot

Today’s cookie comes from Martha’s Crumbly and Sandy section and should look familiar. It’s basically biscotti with a German name.

Mandelbrot gets its name from the two German roots- Mandel-Almond and Brot -Bread. This almond bread has been given a little makeover by Martha. Instead of almonds, it features pecans. As we learned from the Amaretti Crisps a few entries ago, Martha prefers her nuts roasted. Honestly, who doesn’t?

I think it’s false advertising to call something almond bread if it features no almonds. Of course, we still call the cereal Grape Nuts despite its lack of grapes and nuts, so I ‘ll let this one go.

Turns out this cookie’s origin is Israel. Many call it  Jewish biscotti. I don’t know how this recipe differs in any substantial way from any other biscotti, except that it has a German name.

My partner, Dan, has been singing its name all day. I sent a bunch of these cookies with him to share with his coworkers, who are loving getting cookies, by the way.

In order to remember the name, mandelbrot, he set it to the tune of Edelweiss from Rogers & Hammerstein’s musical, The Sound of Music. I love him dearly and found this amusing… the first six or seven times he sang it.

The recipe is quite simple. Oil, eggs, vanilla extract, and sugar are whipped together until light and creamy. Baking powder, baking soda, flour, and toasted, chopped pecans are added to form a dough. The dough is then cut in three and shaped into 3X5 inch mounds that are about an inch tall. They are then baked for 25 minutes at 350 degrees. After baking, remove from the oven, slice into 1/2 inch slices, sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar, and place on a cookie sheet to bake an additional 15 minutes.

The result is crispy, crumbly, nutty, goodness.

Great with coffee, tea, or just by themselves.

I’ve never had much success with Jewish foods. I have an adopted Jewish grandmother- Ruth. We adopted each other while I was in college in Saint Louis. I met her through another student I was dating at the time. She has cooked for me many times, always claiming her meals were authentic Jewish dishes.

Ruth is one of the chosen people, no doubt. I just don’t think that choice was in reference to cooking.

I don’t like the idea of stereotypes, even though I have stereotypical gay tendencies; cookie baking, for example. My dear friend, Ruth, is everything you’d expect from a Jewish grandmother. She grew up in Boston and eventually moved with her husband, who had passed away years before we met,  to Saint Louis.

Ruth and I have been friends since 1989 and she still pronounces my name, “AND-Ray!”

For twenty-one years I’ve gotten the same responses to the same questions from Ruth.

How are you, Ruth? -Lousy!

How’s your daughter? -She never comes to visit.

What are you doing this week? – With any luck, dying.

After twenty-one years of this back-and-forth, I know how to deal with her. I listen to her kvetch and proselytize. I nod with interest and then I ask her if she wants to go shopping. She always says yes.

Here are a few of my favorite Ruth moments.


In 1999, Ruth had sounded exceptionally down on the phone. I decided to surprise her with a plane ticket to come see me down in Louisiana during Mardi Gras. I was half-expecting her not to accept. It had been two years since we last saw each other. The entire month before the trip she called every night.  She sent me lists of foods she could not eat and emergency telephone numbers including her lawyer, her Rabbi, and the funeral home of her choice.


At the airport, I waited at the window outside the gate and watched her plane land. It was a small charter flight. Ruth would have to descend stairs onto the tarmac and then back up more stairs to the gate. She wasn’t going to like this. From the glass I watched her step onto the tarmac, go up to one of the baggage handlers and give him a big hug. Jesus Christ, I thought to myself. She thinks the baggage handler is me. I saw the handler hug her back, a little confused, and pointed her towards the gate. After what seemed like an eternity, she finally emerged from the gate, with the assistance of another baggage handler she met on the stairs.  She looked my way and immediately let out a squeal of joy as she hobbled over the man next to me and gave him an even bigger hug. I quickly intercepted. She apologized to the gentleman, turned to me and yelled, “When the hell did you get so bald?”


Sitting in Café du Monde, enjoying our café au lait and beignets, Ruth confessed she had been lying to me all these years. “AND-Ray! I have a confession to make.” -she blushed. “I’ve been lying to you about my age. I’m not seventy-two. I’m seventy-six.”


On a recent trip to Saint Louis, I stopped in to see Ruth. She now lives in a posh retirement village in one of the nicer Saint Louis subdivisions. Ruth is almost ninety. She has two hearing aids, neuropathy of the feet which causes her to swerve, a walker, a bad ticker, and enough costume jewelry to start her own home shopping network. We visit. She kvetches. I listen and nod. She tells off-color jokes. I laugh. She complains about her daughter. I sympathize. I know these meetings will end soon. She has begun to give me small tokens each time I see her. I know she’s thinking about the end, too. She has shared with me how she wants her funeral to be carried out. She wants me to play the piano and my friend, Ted, to sing. She’s picked out the music, the readings, and the outfit she wants to be buried in. She is happy when she speaks of this.

She’s ready.

I’m not.

As I go to leave, she hugs me and delivers one of the most strategic sentences I’ve ever heard. I never imagined so few words could be strung together to evoke the maximum amount of  guilt. Only the most skilled of adopted Jewish grandmothers could pull this one off.

“AND-Ray! This might be the last time you see me. Jews don’t believe in open caskets.”

I paused…

“That’s Okay, Ruth… …I’ll bring a crowbar.”


3 Responses to “Das Bröt!-Pecan Mandelbröt- 12 eggs, 5-1/4 cups of sugar, 4 1/4 sticks of Butter, and 6 cups of flour used so far- 169 recipes to go!”

  1. The Montgomery-Aguiniga Family Says:

    Oh AND-Ray…I love Ruth….
    (and Edelwiess, both the flower and the song…)
    Great blog!

  2. Russ Says:

    Oh I think you’ve found your voice here, Andre. Great read!

  3. Carol Says:

    The sound of Dan singing Mandel Brot is stuck in my head.

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