Mandelbrot

The Elf on the Shelf!

The Elf on the Shelf!

Before telling you about today’s cookies, I thought I would introduce you to one of our elves.  I have several of these little guys and every year I bring them out and “Hide” them on shelves and other places where they can get into mischief.  Occasionally they get moved from one spot to another so I find them in unexpected places.  They add a little fun to our Christmas preparations.

Today’s cookie recipe is for Mandelbrot.  They are crunchy cookies very similar to biscotti and so I include them in that general category of cookies.    They always contain almonds  as “mandelbrot ” is the German word for “almond bread”.

Mandelbrot

Mandelbrot

I have tried a variety of recipes for mandelbrot but I always come back to this one.  It has very few ingredients, is so easy to put together and is dependable in that the cookies never fail to come out good.  Everyone to whom I’ve given them loves them and asks for the recipe.  This is one example where simple is always better.  If you really want to dress them up a little a drizzle of dark chocolate over the top makes them especially appealing.  Biscotti-type cookies go great with a cup of coffee, and it’s OK to dunk!

MANDELBROT

YIELD:   3 1/2 — 4 dozen cookies

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup salad oil
  • 3  eggs
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon anise seeds, crushed
  • OR  1/2 teaspoon almond  flavoring
  • 1 cup finely chopped almonds

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease a baking sheet or line with parchment paper.

2.  In a large mixer bowl, mix at medium speed, the sugar, oil, and eggs until well blended and aerated .

3.  Add flour, salt and anise seeds, OR almond flavoring and continue beating until well mixed.  If  the dough becomes too stiff, stir in the remaining flour by hand.

4.  Stir in the almonds.

5.  Divide the dough in half.  With floured hands, on the prepared baking sheet, shape each half into a 12 x 3-inch loaf about 3 inches apart.

Form dough into two long loaves on lined baking sheet.

Form dough into two long loaves on lined baking sheet.

6.  Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until light brown.  Remove from the oven and immediately cut each loaf crosswise into 1/2 inch diagonal slices.

Slice baked loaves into diagonal slices.

Slice baked loaves into diagonal slices.

7.  Turn each slice on its side.  Return to oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes more, turning the slices over at the half-way point to insure even browning.

Lay slices flat and bake again, turning over once until crisp.

Lay slices flat and bake again, turning over once until crisp.

They should be crisp and toasted, pleasantly crunchy, but not too hard.  Adjust baking time to your liking.

Mandelbrot. a welcome gift.

Mandelbrot. a welcome gift.

SOURCE:   Cooking Light,  2009

Continuing the Baking Traditions

Scandinavian Kringla Cookies

Scandinavian Kringla Cookies

As we now count down the weeks and days until Christmas, I will be doing a lot of baking.  It seems as though every weekend brings some event that I will be bringing baked goods to.  The first of these takes place  this weekend at our church where we will be having a “Christmas Cookie Walk”.  This has become an annual tradition where many of the women of the church bake cookies and package  them in half dozen amounts, attractively and creatively presented.  The townspeople look forward to this event and come in “droves” to purchase our home baked bars and cookies.

Baking cookies for the Holidays has been going on in my family for a long time.  For me, baking the same recipes that my mother and grandmother baked is a connection to the past, and like me my daughter also bakes some of these same recipes.  So we are carrying on those same baking traditions.

IMG_1816

I am making two kinds of cookies for our “Cookie Walk”.  One is an old Scandinavian recipe called Kringla that I am happy to share with you today.  The other is a Red Velvet Crinkle cookie.  I will be telling you about that one in my next post.

Kringla is a somewhat plain, not too sweet cookie with a mild anise flavor, made from a dough made tender by the addition of sour cream, and a little butter.  The dough is easy to work with in forming the “ropes” that you shape into the cookie.  Initially, after mixing , the dough is somewhat sticky, but I let it chill for about an hour, and then find it smooth and shapeable. Kids will like forming loops and twists with this easy to handle dough. Because they are pale in color, using decorative sugar to decorate them gives them a festive appearance.  A cup of hot coffee or a glass of cold milk is a must when enjoying Kringla.

KRINGLA

YIELD:   Makes about 48 cookies

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3  3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder

    Anise is available as either crushed or whole seeds,or as an extract.

    Anise is available as either crushed or whole seeds,or as an extract.

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 Tablespoon water
  • 3 egg yolks, slightly beaten
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 Tablespoon butter, melted
  • 1/4 teaspoon anise extract, or  1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • coarse or fine decorating sugar

1.  In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

2.  In a small bowl or cup lightly whisk together the egg white and water, set aside.

3.  In a large bowl, beat together the egg yolks, sugar, milk, sour cream, melted butter and anise extract, (or vanilla)

Cream together the sugar, egg, butter, sour cream, and anise extract

Cream together the sugar, egg, butter, sour cream, and anise extract

4.  Using a wooden spoon stir in the flour mixture until combined.  The dough will be stiff and sticky.  Cover the dough and  chill for about an hour.

5.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease 2-3 cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.

6.  On a well floured surface, drop about 1 tablespoon of dough. Roll dough into a 5- or 8-inch long rope.

Roll small balls of dough into ropes either 5 inches or 8 inches long.

Roll small balls of dough into ropes either 5 inches or 8 inches long.

On the prepared cookie sheet, shape a 5-inch rope into a ring, crossing it over itself about 1 inch from ends.

Form dough into a circle and cross the ends.

Form dough into a circle and cross the ends.

Or fold an 8-inch rope in half and twist three times; seal ends with egg white mixture.

Fold dough in half and twist three times.

Fold dough in half and twist three times.

Repeat with the remaining dough, placing shapes 2-inches apart on the cookie sheets.

7.  Brush cookies with egg white mixture, and sprinkle with decorating sugar.

Brush with egg white and decorate with sugar.

Brush with egg white and decorate with sugar.

8.  Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until bottoms are a light golden brown.  Transfer to a wire rack and cool.

Baked and cooling on a wire rack.

Baked and cooling on a wire rack.

Enjoy Kringla with a cup of coffee or a glass of cold milk.

Enjoy Kringla with a cup of coffee or a glass of cold milk.

To bake ahead and store: After baking, place cookies in layers separated by waxed paper in an airtight container.  Store in a cool area.  They may also be frozen for up to 3 months.

SOURCE;   My Mom’s recipe box.