Mandelbrot (Pareve)

photo taken by Deniele Muscetta, on December 23, 2007, CC licensing

How did we come to be who we are? Occasionally, we ask ourselves that question, or try to give the answer to someone else. We turn our thoughts to the past, and try to remember a "turning point" which helped to form our identity, and inspired us with the strength to become better people.

At those times, we cast our mind's eye back to some momentous occasion, perhaps a graduation, wedding, or the birth of children: but are usually wrong. The most meaningful events probably happened in the kitchen, and were not accompanied by pomp and circumstance, but with a glassele tea and a nosh.

Perhaps, we came home after having been teased at playtime, and wondered if the other youngster was right. Maybe, we were in the midst of our first go-round with acne, and wondered if we would ever be attractive. Then a blessing occurred. Someone poured a soothing drink, reached for the cookie jar, and told us that the other youngster was just "jealous," or that their complexion had been even worse, but it cleared quickly with scrupulous cleanliness.

The special moment was a quiet one. Our concerns did not disappear, but they were made bearable. With each bite we seemed to consume a bit of courage as well. When we left the table, our hearts were as nourished as our bodies.
For many of us, those heartening morsels were Mandelbrot. Like our lives, they were not too sugary, but sweet enough to be satisfying. They were not always soft and easy to consume, but could be managed, and in the end would leave us smiling.

- 2 cups slivered Almonds
- 1 cup sliced Almonds
- 1 Egg Yolk mixed with 2 tablespoons Water

- 3 Eggs
- 1/2 cup Almond Oil or melted Butter
- 2 tablespoons grated Orange Peel
- 2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
- 1 teaspoon Almond Extract
- 2 tablespoons Sweet Wine
- 3 cups Self-Rising Flour
- 1 cup Sugar

Toast the slivered Almonds by stirring in a dry skillet over medium heat until they are golden. Immediately pour them out of the skillet onto a plate to cool. If you don't turn them out, they will burn and become bitter in the retained heat.

Grease 2 cookie sheets, and heat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a large measuring cup, whisk together the Eggs, Almond Oil, Wine, Extracts, and Orange Peel. In a large bowl mix the Self-Rising Flour, Sugar, and the cooled toasted Almonds. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ones, and mix thoroughly until a dough forms.

Place half the dough on each sheet and form into a long rather flattened loaf, about 4 inches wide, and as long as the pan. Putting a bit of oil on your hands will make this easier, since the dough will be sticky. Brush the loaves with the Egg Yolk/Water mixture, and press the sliced Almonds into the top of the loaves.

Bake until golden brown, about 12-15 minutes.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes. With a sharp knife, cut the loaves into slices no more than 1/2 inch thick. Turn them on their sides in the pan, and put them back in the oven again for about another 10-20 minutes until golden colored. Cool and store in an airtight container.

Sephardic or Askhenazi