Tasting By The Book II…coming this fall! By Trustee, Carol Rubel

Tasting by the Book, a new concept in fundraising, arrived at the Abington Community Library in October 2015. Resoundingly successful, the event will make a return appearance again this October!
The sharing of  gourmet food delicacies prepared by local cooks not only guaranteed attendees a marvelously varied array of appetizers, entrees and desserts to graze on…but also introduced some unusual and delicious specialty items to the crowd.

One of the donating cooks, Tara Mowbray, prepared a special cookie for which she is  famous among family and friends. “Mandelbrot”, an Eastern European/ Jewish version of  Italian biscotti is a dense cookie that is baked twice …which yields its characteristic crunchy texture. Best enjoyed accompanying coffee, tea or wine, the cookie keeps well and can be flavored with almost any taste a cook might want: vanilla, lemon, anise, etc.

When asked why she chose this particular cookie to share at Tasting by the Book, Tara responded:

” I chose it because everyone who tastes the cookies really likes the taste and texture.  My close friends ask for them as birthday gifts or for me to bring to holiday gatherings and then the take some out of the container when I get there to make sure there are cookies for themselves after the event.  What better compliment can a person get from a friend than for her to jokingly tell her family “I am not sharing MY mondel bread with you.” ? 🙂

The cookies are good fresh, last a long time on the counter in an airtight container and are also good right out of the freezer dunked in coffee/hot chocolate.  The sugar can be cut down to make it a breakfast cookie and the chocolate chips can be subbed for walnuts or craisins to make it more healthy. ”

Tara explained her affection for the Abington Community Library by sharing her thoughts about the new event, Tasting by the Book, as well as the library itself :

“I supported the library because my dear friend (Angela) is the President of the Friends of the Library and she knows that I love to cook and bake and use my friends (her included) as guinea pigs for the new recipes I try all the time.  I enjoy volunteering my time for special events and was curious to taste the other cook’s food.

The library is a wonderful resource for books both online and hard copy as well as videos. The evening adult events are a bonus!”

Please enjoy Tara’s recipe …and mark your calendar for TBTB #2 this coming October!


2 ¼ Cups Flour, 1 ½ tsp. Baking Powder, 1 ½ tsp. Almond Extract, 2 Eggs, 1 Stick Melted Margarine (do not use butter), ¾ Cup Sugar, ¾ Cup Chocolate Chips or Chopped Nuts (I prefer walnuts)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease and flour a 9×13 pan or larger.  Also have handy a large cookie sheet for toasting.

Mix all the ingredients together.  If you have a Kitchenaid mixer, use the dough hook.  The dough will be thick, like bread dough.  If the dough does not pull away from the bowl after thorough mixing, you may add more flour.

Mix in the chocolate chips or nuts.

Split the dough in ½ and with one half formed into a ball, either on a lightly floured surface or between your hands (treat it like play dough in your hands and “squeeze” it into a roll from the bottom up) shape the dough into a roll about 12” long.  Place the roll into the pan and flatten it with your fingers until it is about 4-5” wide.  Do the same with the other half.  Bake it for 20-25 minutes until lightly browned and dry looking.

Take out the pan (leave the oven on) and now it is time to toast the cookies.  Until you are comfortable removing the loaves from the pan with two spatulas without breaking them in half, I recommend you cut the loaves into cookies right in the pan.  Cut the loaf into cookies about 1 ½ inches wide with a single cut (do not “saw” them) and place them on their sides.  It may be crowded in the pan if you used a 9×13.  Place the cookies back in the oven and toast them for 5-7 minutes depending on how crispy you like them.  Once you are comfortable removing the loaves from the pan, you can place them on the cookie sheet and cut them into cookies and toast them (it will be less crowded).

This recipe is VERY special to me.  It is the only one that I have that is handwritten by my grandmother.  When she used to come and visit, she would make these cookies.  The only difference between hers and this one is that I ALWAYS add more chips and nuts.

I baked these cookies for the Humane Society bake sale and the staff was fighting over them.  I told them that if I shared the recipe they had to promise they wouldn’t enter it into any contests.  They promised straight away!

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