During the last 10 days, the northeast has gotten belted with three big snowstorms. After you snowblow the driveway and sidewalks, what’s a northeasterner to do? For me, there’s nothing as comforting on a cold winter day as having tea and cookies.
One of my favorite cookie is called mandel bread. For those of who haven’t heard of mandel bread, it’s a Jewish cookie that visiting grandmothers would invariably show up with (at least the Jewish grandmothers in my life) in a shoebox. Thus, I’ve always thought they were called shoebox cookies. Whatever they’re called, they’re my kind of cookie. Sweet, crunchy, great for dipping (if you’re a cookie dipping kind of person), ideal as a companion to a cup of tea or coffee, and they freeze beautifully.
I want to give credit to two people, neither of whom I know. Laura Polanski, wherever you are, I thank you for posting your gluten free version of your mother-in-law Sylvia’s mandel bread recipe. Apparently Sylvia is famous for her mandel bread recipe and her daughter-in-law Laura made it gluten free. I made a few adaptations which I will include in the recipe below.
I’ve only made this with Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose gluten free flour mix, so I can’t comment on other flour mixtures. But I wouldn’t hesitate to make it with some of the other available all purpose gluten free flour mixes, of which there are thankfully many. Or if you have a combination of flours that you like to use for baking, I’m going to guess that it would work fine as a substitute. If you do make this with another type of flour mixture, please let me know in the comment section and then I will post your edit directly in this post for others to read.
Gluten Free Mandel Bread
adapted by Ellen Allard
1 cup vegetable oil (I used canola)
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups Bob’s Red Mill gluten free all purpose flour
2 1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
3 tbsp. sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 tbsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
Apricot preserves (or your choice of fruit preserves)
Beat eggs in medium sized bowl.
Add oil, sugar, and vanilla to the beaten eggs. The dough will be VERY shiny. It reminds me of silly putty.
Sift the GF all purpose flour, baking powder, and xanthan gum into a separate bowl and then add it into the egg mixture. Once again, it will be kind of sticky. When blending the ingredients, don’t be afraid to use your hands if you need to.
Mix the 3 tbsp. sugar, 1/2 cup light brown sugar, and 1 tbsp. cinnamon in a small bowl and set aside.
Divide dough into 8 very equal pieces. Take one of the 8 sections and roll into a snake. Stretch and pat it to flatten a little bit. Place on non-stick cookie sheet. Press dough until it is about 1/4″ thick, about 2″ wide and 9″ long. Repeat with 3 more sections of the divided dough.
Spread filling of choice on each of the four flattened pieces of dough, being careful not to use too much lest it run out of the mandel bread as they bake in the oven. I put apricot preserves on two of the dough pieces and chocolate chips on the other two.
Add finely chopped walnuts on top of the filling. Sprinkle some of the sugar/brown sugar/cinnamon mixture over the walnuts, saving some for the top of the mandel bread.
Roll the 4 remaining pieces of dough into snakes. Flatten as above. Use these 4 flattened dough pieces to cover each of the four dough pieces that are on your cookie sheet.
Sprinkle the rest of the sugar/brown sugar/cinnamon mixture over mandel bread.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes then remove from oven.
Reduce heat to 250 degrees. After the mandel bread has rested for 15 minutes, cut it into pieces.
Place the sliced mandel bread back on the cookie sheet, turned on their sides. Return to oven and bake for 10 minutes.
Make a big pot of coffee or tea, invite over a friend and enjoy!