Aunt Helen’s Mandelbrot

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Use a wooden spoon and lots of elbow grease were the words of advice I received from Aunt Helen when she heard I was going to make her mandelbrot recipe. Do not use a Aunt Helen's Mandelbrot (Mandel Bread)mixer, she reminded me. So with wooden spoon and mixing bowl at the ready, I made mandelbrot. However, before I give you the recipe, here are two important bits of history:

1. My grandma Freda (my mom’s mom) died before I was born and I am named after her. (In Judaism, you name babies after people who are deceased, as a way of keeping their memory alive.) Anyway, my grandma’s sister, Helen, was very close to my mom, and consequently, was like a grandmother to my sister and me. We’d celebrate holidays together, and every year on our birthdays, Aunt Helen would give us a batch of her homemade mandelbrot (with nuts for my parents, with chocolate chips for my sister and me). When I was 11, we moved out to California and Aunt Helen continued to bake the mandelbrot, shipping it to us across the country. Sure, there were a lot of crumbs, but it was always still delicious. To this day, Aunt Helen still mails us mandelbrot on our birthdays.

Of course, this recipe was passed down to my mom, and now, to me. The only difference between their batches and mine is theirs have a lot more burned pieces, although I do believe that’s by choice.

2. Mandelbrot (aka mandelbrodt or mandel bread) is a twice baked cookie made with oil. In Yiddish, mandel means almond (or according to Aunt Helen, nut) and brot means bread. Traditionally, it is made with nuts and sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar. I however, prefer it sans nuts and with chocolate chips. It’s often described as Jewish biscotti but to me, it’s a lot thicker and crumbles quite easily. And there’s no right or wrong time to eat mandelbrot–I’ve been known to have a few pieces for breakfast while other people enjoy dunking it in coffee for dessert.

Photos of the process here.

3 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup oil
3 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 cup chocolate chips


  1. Mix eggs and sugar with a wooden spoon. Add vanilla and mix.
  2. Mix the flour, salt, and baking together. Add to the egg mixture, alternating with the oil, four times.
  3. Add chocolate chips and mix. Batter will be stiff. (She’s not kidding, it’s stiff!)
  4. Refrigerate overnight, or at least three hours. (Aunt Helen recommended overnight.)
  5. Roll into four logs, approximately 1 1/2″ in diameter.
  6. Bake at 350 for 35-45 minutes, remove from oven, and immediately slice into 1″ pieces. (Both my mom and Aunt Helen said it’s very important to not let the logs cool because they will crack when you slice them.)
  7. Place cookies on their side on cookie sheet and bake 10-15 minutes more.

Recipe from Aunt Helen.


16 Responses to “Aunt Helen’s Mandelbrot”

    Jenifer on 1 October 30th, 2008 8:12 pm

    What a great way to honor your family! I’m definitely putting this recipe on my list of “To be baked”.

    (And I hopped on over here once I saw the twitter that your new post was up!)

    Bethany on 2 October 30th, 2008 8:13 pm

    did you know that the chocolate chip was my idea? Aunt Helen told me that a few years ago. Helen said I was watching her and suggested that it would taste really good with chocolate chips and now it’s the best way to eat it.

    Haley D. Glasco on 3 October 31st, 2008 10:45 am

    food tastes best when accompanied by fond memories. looks delish!

    justJENN on 4 November 1st, 2008 5:59 pm


    Paula on 5 November 5th, 2008 2:22 pm

    What a lovely family tradition! Looks great!

    Hallie on 6 November 7th, 2008 9:38 am

    Yum. These look so good. I love family recipes, they just have that little extra love in them that makes them just taste better.

    giz on 7 November 7th, 2008 9:05 pm

    What a great recipe and a great story. If it weren’t so late at night I’d be in the kitchen already making these but tomorrow I’m making them and taking them over to babba who will be eternally grateful.

    Audrey on 8 November 30th, 2008 8:12 pm

    I have never made mandelbrot before. We have always bought them at a kosher bakery.

    Oh and my daughter was named after my own grandmother who never had the chance to meet my daughter.

    Debbie on 9 December 17th, 2008 4:19 pm

    What kind of oil? For some reason when I make these they spread out. Don’t get me wrong, they still are yummy! But I would like to know why mine go flat.

    Hilary on 10 December 19th, 2008 12:34 pm

    Debbie, vegetable oil. Not sure about why yours spread. Did you try this recipe?

    Rose on 11 December 20th, 2008 8:27 pm

    just made this! they turned out GREAT! i will definitely be making this recipe again. i accidentally poured a little too much oil in, so mine spread a little more than i would have liked, but oh well. also, because i have a chocolate addition, i added an extra 1/2 cup of chocolate chips (making it a total of 1.5 cups of chocolate chips), and would highly recommend this to anyone else who is making these. they were super easy and are so delicious! i will never buy mandelbrot from a store or bakery again! everyone should try it, because once they see how easy it is, i know they will feel the same way. thanks for sharing your family’s recipe!!!

    michele on 12 December 24th, 2008 3:34 pm

    Hi there…I tried your recipe last night and refrigerated the batter overnight..My question is…I usually like to make my mandel bread the same day as needed.; but I dont need them until Thursday…so….is it okay for me to refrigerate for 2 nights or should I just bake it tonight?? Thank you! Cant wait to hear back from you! Michelle

    H on 13 December 24th, 2008 3:36 pm

    Hi Michele. I think it should be OK another night. Enjoy!

    Dana on 14 May 16th, 2009 4:59 am

    I like to use mini chocolate chips these days when I bake these types of cookies. Thanks for the recipe and ALL your recipes!

    Mandelbrot recipes | Abcstrings on 15 November 11th, 2011 10:06 pm

    […] Aunt Helen’s Mandelbrot : Nosh With MeOct 30, 2008 … So with wooden spoon and mixing bowl at the ready, I made mandelbrot. However, before I give you the recipe, here are two important bits of … […]

    Laura on 16 November 12th, 2012 4:29 am

    These look like very nice chocolate chip toasts, but when you deleted the almonds they ceased to be mandlbrodt. The chips also make them sweeter to satisfy kiddie tastes. I was looking for a grown-up tasting traditional almond recipe when yours came up in my online search. I’ll keep looking.