Saturday, December 10, 2011

Hanukah Cookies, from Our House to Yours

HALLIE EPHRON: Our New England neighborhood takes its holidays seriously, particularly Christmas. Across the street, Jean dresses up the goose on her front steps like Mrs. Claus. Trees and candlelights go up in windows. Traffic becomes a nightmare. And every year it seems like more and more houses light up.

We're the anomaly. Here's a picture of our house, a dark blot between our Christmassy neighbors. This is what a Jewish family house with Irish and Italian neighbors looks like in December.

This year Hanukah falls smack on top of Christmas. We don't make a big deal out of the holiday but we do have our traditions. We eat lots and lots of potato latkes. With sour cream. Whole fat sour cream. Lots of whole fat sour cream. And salt.

Another treat is Mandelbrot. That's twice-baked Hanukah cookies, like biscotti only Jewish and made with oil instead of butter.

"Mandel" means almonds, "brot" means bread. It's probably traditional to use almonds in the cookies but I use chopped walnuts or pecans. My recipe also calls for maraschino cherries. Go ahead, admit it: you love them, too. And you officially have my permission to eat lots of them.

Thanks to Bertha Mandel, my one-time neighbor, for this lovely recipe which is so easy to make and so delicious.


2 eggs
3/4 c sugar
1 heaping T marmalade
1 c oil
3 1/2 c flour
3 oz chocolate chips
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 c raisins
1 c nuts (toasted skinned almonds or chopped pecans or walnuts)
1 small bottle of drained maraschino cherries (confession: I use a big bottle)
Greased cookie sheet

Preheat oven to 350
Grease a cookie sheet (or two)

1. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs
2. Add oil, sugar, marmalade, vanilla and mix together
3. Add raisins, nuts, chocolate chips, cherries and mix together
4. In a big bowl, dump the soda and baking powder and flour and whisk it together
5. Gradually mix the other already mixed (steps 1-3) ingredients into the flour
6. Shape the dough into two or three mounded rows on a greased cookie sheet
7 Bake at 350 for 25 minutes
8. Cool and cut diagonally with a sharp knife.
9. Put each piece on a cut side and sprinkle it with cinnamon-sugar
10. Bake for another 10 minutes

Cool. Save in a covered container.
When you're ready to serve them, these are wonderful briefly warmed in the oven, cinnamon-sugar side up.


  1. Yum, those sound good, Hallie! Thank you for the recipe, and for the permission to pig out on them!

    And may I say that one does not have to be Jewish to have the only dark house in the neighborhood. Ahem.

  2. Sure like my mother-in-law's biscotti. Do they taste alike, too?

  3. Yes, we are competing for the darkest house in the neighborhood this year. Sigh.

    But Hallie, your cookies would definitely improve things. And would be fab with tea.

    Will you give us your potato latke recipe?

  4. Perfect with tea, Deb.

    Potato Latkes - yes - will post.

  5. I've made these--even better than they sound! thanks Hallie!

  6. I actually don't like maraschino cherries. Any suggestions for a substitute? Would dried cherries work?

    (My captcha is "hallysi")

  7. Yep, Hallie and Karen, this is another household joining you in the darkness. We haven't done outside decorations in years. We are only having a small tree this year because oldest son will be here tomorrow to get it down from the attic. Hubby wanted to know if son knew he'd have to lug it back on Jan

    I'm waiting for the latkas recipe, but I might try these to go with my tea.

  8. Who knew there was a Jewish biscotti?

    These sound delicious - and I'm with Deb, although I actually do like maschino cherries, I'm not sure i want them in a cookie. I'm going to substitute dried cherries.

    Does this mean you are NOT posting your Orange rind candy recipe?

  9. The cookies are my favorite part of Christmas. But, if Jewish cookies are all this good I may have to convert.

    Bob D.

  10. I've got to try my hand at these. I love the texture of biscotti, but I'm not a big fan of almonds. So pecans plus maraschino cherries (yum!) would be perfect!

  11. Mandelbrot by Mandel? You had me at oil instead of butter. I too am not a fan of maraschino cherries, and I have dried cherries to do the deed. These sound awesome and I can't wait! A really big thank you, Hallie.

  12. From another dark house -- sort of. Christmas left when our son moved out on his own. Wow, how sad that sounds. Yet we don't mind. (However, my husband, who is neighbor-conscious, puts his tiny white lights on the front bushes. Once it snows, there's a strange glow.) But no tree, wreaths or gifts. Richard LOVES biscotti, so it will be fun to surprise him with Hallie's recipe. Oh, and Julia, our holiday tradition is Mexican chocolate cookies with maraschino cherries and pecans.

  13. AnnOxford: Mexican chocolate cookies with maraschino cherries and pecans? These sound wonderful. POST THEM!

  14. RECIPE!
    The simplest ever potato pancakes (These are what I grew up with)

    2 LARGE unpeeled potatoes (all-purpose or Yukon gold; not baking)
    2 eggs (1 if the potatoes aren't huge)
    Cooking oil (vegetable or peanut oil; not olive oil)

    Caution – once you start on this recipe, don’t stop until you’re done – grated potatoes left to stand will turn dark and yucky looking.

    1. Grate the potatoes (the results will be a bit crisper if you use a hand grater instead of a food processor)

    2. Dump the grated potatoes into a clean cloth dish towel; wrap them up and twist the cloth over the sink, wringing out as much liquid as you can from the potatoes.

    3. Scrape the wrung-out potatoes into a mixing bowl and add the egg and a scant handful of flour

    4. Mix

    5. Heat oil in a frying pan until a bit of potato sizzles when it hits the oil.

    6. Ladel in tablespoons of potatoes (about 6 can cook at one time) into the hot oil. Cook until brown and crisp on one side, then turn and cook on the other

    7. Drain cooked potato pancakes on paper towel on a cookie rack and keep in a warm oven until all the potatoes are done.

    8. Keep frying until the potatoes are all cooked

    9. Serve with salt and sour cream

  15. I'm sure dried cherries would work - but they're a bit redundant with raisins. Maybe if you use dried cherries use yellow raisins instead of regular raisins, just for a bit more contrast. But really, the maraschino cherries MAKE this cookie so yummy. Big, super sweet, juicy.

  16. Looks delicious! I'll have to give these a try.

  17. marmalade? that feels so weird...but I may try it. This may sound like blasphemy but I've made latkes with frozen shredded potatoes. A Rachel Ray recipe. Way easy.

  18. Mmmm! I love mandlebrot. I'll have to try these.

    Ours is also a dark house at Christmas. Ben is Jewish, and I'm lapsed Catholic (lapsed into something closer to maybe pantheism). So we celebrate Chanukah, Solstice, and Christmas (for the kids). It's interesting. Latkes and fruitcake. Mandelbrot and Christmas cookies. My youngest turned his friends at grad school on to the glories of gift giving and feasting at Chanukah and Christmas both.