Mandelbrot means “almond bread” in Yiddish, but its origins are the biscotti cookies that were created in Italy more than 700 years ago. These biscotti originally contained no fat or sugar and were baked twice so that they would be very hard and dry and last for months on ships at sea. Biscotti recipes traveled north to Germany, where they became very popular with the Jewish community because they could be made in advance of Shabbat and stay fresh for days.
Around the early 1900s, oil or butter was added to the dough along with different nuts, dried fruit, or chocolate chips, and our modern mandelbrot was created. During the Depression and World War II, butter and cooking oil were expensive and hard to come by, so mayonnaise was often used in their place. Mayonnaise is the secret ingredient in these mystery mandelbrot.
Hellmann’s mayonnaise was created by Nina Hellmann in 1905 to use on sandwiches and for sale in her German husband’s deli in New York City. Perhaps the Hellmanns were Jewish? Who knows, but Hellmann’s mayonnaise makes these cookies delicious!
The almond tree is the first tree to bloom in Israel in the early spring, making this recipe perfect for Tu BiSh’vat.