Jan 6, 2011

Cardamom Mandelbrot & Vanilla Kisses

Home for me is a jar filled with cookies, and since I’m home a lot, I always feel guilty if my counter jars are empty. After our wedding Anniversary / Silvester night plans were cancelled due to a much sick partner, we’ve spent the last long weekend together at home. Since nothing was demanded from my culinary skills except a bowl of plain cooked rice, I’ve decided to turn to please my son’s cravings after he himself was deprived of sugar and white flour goodies for a week due to an illness of his own.

I found this amazing recipe for mandelbrot cookies in a 10 years old Gourmet magazine. I usually don’t try any recipes for mandelbrot cookies which are similar to what my grandma used to make, but the combination of almonds and cardamom convinced me to try this one.

At my grandma’s house we used to wake up every morning to a box filled with mandelbrot (almond bread cookies), which are the cakier and softer version for the italian biscotti. Most of biscotti recipes are made without fat, but mandelbrot is usually made with oil, or better yet butter (since the butter crises seems to be coming to an end...no guilts there). Sitting at the kitchen with my grandma in the mornings dipping cookies in coffee is definitely one of my best childhood memories from my grandparents place.

While I was trying out this recipe I soon realized I’ll be adopting it to one of our regular home jar cookies, when a familiar nostalgic feeling came over me and I could not stop eating the ends of the rolls I was cutting before the second bake. I’ve soon remembered another thing my grandma and I used to do and I followed - I saved all the crumbs that were left from the slicing in a small jar for future ice cream topping (so polish!, nothing goes to waste...).

I was so preoccupied with my childhood memories I suddenly realized I was baking my own white flour and sugar craving, so I immediately turned to ask my little one what he wished for, and he replied the obvious: “Kisses...”. So we’ve made another jar filled with those...

Cardamom Mandelbrot cookies

adapted from december 2000 Gourmet magazine

makes about 60 cookies

450 gr. (3 cups) white flour
1 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
230 gr. butter, softened
220 gr. (1 cup) cane sugar
1 tsp almond extract
2 large eggs
90 gr. (3/4 cup) silvered almonds

Heat oven to 180℃.

In a medium bowl sift together the flour, cardamom, baking powder, salt and baking soda.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment beat together the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add almond extract, and the eggs (one at a time), and beat well until everything is incorporated. Add the almonds and beat shortly on low speed (to not brake the almond completely).

Transfer to a lightly floured work surface and form the dough into a ball. Divide to 4, and form 4 logs. Place the logs on a baking tray lined with a baking sheet, and bake in the preheated oven for 20-30 min., or until lightly golden and stiff.

Reduce oven temperature to 170℃.

Cool the logs on the tray for 5 min., and then transfer them to a cutting board. Wait another 10 min., and then cut the logs diagonally to 1.5 cm thick slices with a serrated knife using a sawing motion. Arrange slices, cut sides down, on two baking trays covered with baking sheets, and bake for about 20 min, or until golden. Cool on a rack, and store in a sealed jar.

Vanilla meringue kisses

makes about 60 small kisses

100 gr. egg whites
200 gr. white sugar
2 tsp vanilla bean paste

Heat oven to 125℃.

In the bowl of an electric mixer put the egg whites and sugar. Place the bowl on a bain-marie (on top of a cooking pot with about a 1/4 of simmering water on medium low heat, when the bowl does not touch the water inside the cooking pot). Whisk the egg whites and sugar until all the sugar melts, and the mixture is warm to the touch, about 60℃.

Take off the bain-marie and transfer quickly to the electric mixture, and beat with the whisk attachment on medium high speed until stiff peaks forms and the bowl has cooled a bit. Lower the mixer speed and whisk in the vanilla bean paste.

Transfer the meringue to a pastry bag with a 13 mm star tip and pipe little meringue kisses, about 3.5 cm in diameter.

Bake for 1.5-2 hours, or until you can easily lift the kisses, and they remain quite white. Store in an airtight container.


  1. Natalie Gutman-ChenJanuary 6, 2011 at 11:11 PM

    Kisses are my all time favorites! but I would like to get an idea of how many eggs make 100gr white eggs.

  2. Natalie - about 2.5 egg whites makes 100 gr... :) every egg white from a large egg weights about 40 grams.