in the kitchen with: jen altman

i knew that jen altman was a perfect fit for the in the kitchen with column when i saw her home and her work, especially her lovely polaroids of food. i, like snoopy, love cookies and was so happy when i saw her submission for chocolate and walnut mandelbrot. it was just in time to hit me straight through the heart, as i’ve taken a break from sweets! but when i’m back on, i just hope that making them doesn’t become an addiction like lena corwin’s pumpkin-cranberry bread! so, if you’re ready to try jen’s delicious chocolate and walnut mandelbrot this weekend, click here for the full recipe (or just click “read more” below. i’ve opted to skip the wine pairing with this one for obvious reasons; jen suggests pairing this with coffee and i’d suggest a cappuccino. –kristina

[editor’s note: are these not the most gorgeous photos ever? i’m totally blown away by their softness]

about jen altman: after sneaking copious amounts of freshly baked morsels in her father’s bakery when she was a child, jen knew she was destined for a lifetime love affair with perfect little round baked things. she worked as an apprentice to a pastry chef before becoming a salty sailor and seeing the world. she is smitten with the dreamy world that she spies through her vintage polaroid cameras and chronicles magical moments on her blog, nectar & light. jen also sells her prints in her shop and is the creator and editor of the much-anticipated polaroid collaboration, for the love of light: a tribute to the art of polaroid.

Jen Altman’s Chocolate & Walnut Mandelbrot

*Jen’s note: I love using hand-chopped chocolate and walnuts in this recipe; the chocolate becomes ribbons of sweetness in the finished cookie and the walnuts – because you will get some pieces so small when hand-chopping – disappear into the batter creating the most delicious nutty goodness. If you are not a fan of walnuts, pecans can easily be substituted.


¾ c. sugar
½ c. olive oil
2 organic eggs
2 t. pure vanilla extract
¼ t. sea salt
1 ½ t. baking powder
2 c. flour
1 T. cinnamon
1 c. chopped walnuts
2 c. {8oz.} chopped semi-sweet baking chocolate {the best you can find}

Preheat the oven to 350F. Prepare a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Begin by chopping the chocolate and walnuts – set aside. Combine the flour, cinnamon, baking powder and salt and sift well – set aside. In a large bowl whisk the sugar, oil eggs and vanilla together until they are well incorporated. Add the flour mixture to the wet mixture and beat until well mixed. Fold in the walnuts and chocolate.

Scoop the dough out onto the baking sheet and shape into a long flat log – about 10-12 inches long and 3-4 inches wide. Bake at 350F for 25 minutes. Pull from the oven and reset the temperature to 325F. Let the log sit and cool for 15-20 minutes. Using a serrated knife, carefully cut the log into 1 inch slices. The dough will still be a bit soft at this point so cut and handle the slices with care. Place the slices on the baking sheet – they will not spread so they can be placed close together. Bake an additional 10 minutes – cool for 10 minutes, then flip the cookies over and bake an additional 10 minutes.

Why Jen chose this recipe:

Mandelbrot {or Mandel Bread}, for ease of explanation, is Jewish Biscotti. A twice-baked cookie that, when drowned in coffee, provides the most delightful means of starting your day. It is one of my favorite cookies to bake, and one of the greatest joys of this recipe is that the cookies last for up to two weeks or can be frozen for later indulgences. Did I mention that they are quite delightful fresh from the oven with a scoop of coffee ice cream? Well, they are.”

  1. sarah says:

    oooh! gorgeous light! seeing this makes me want to put on a sun dress and have some friends over for these. lovely!

  2. mama ya-ya says:

    oh my. . .my daughter, the photographer!!! honey, i am sooo very proud of you! all of this and a wonderful mommy, too. . .how do you manage it all? of course, i know that you don’t sleep. . .i love you baby. . .

  3. matt says:

    I think it’s safe to say everyone knows my love for Jen and I’m so glad to see her here.

    Dreamy & delicious, that’s what she is.

  4. joslyn says:

    i love jen’s work. her photos are amazing and this recipe looks delish. great post.

  5. decor8 Holly says:

    This is lovely Kristina. Your In The Kitchen column is fantastic and has encouraged me to cook a lot more.

    And Jen is nothing short of amazing. Thanks for the mandelbrot recipe, I want to try it out this weekend.


  6. The colors are so pretty in these photos, very nostalgic

  7. nicole says:

    I love jen. thank you for including her!

  8. Oh my goodness, thanks so much for this post. We just moved into a new home, and I know this is the first thing to bake in the oven to fill the house with a lovely scent! And I’m sure they’ll be lovely to eat, too. ;)

  9. deborah says:

    oh yum! i’ve bookmarked this to make soon. love jen’s work!

  10. alyson says:

    Thank you for this great recipe and lovely photos. I can’t wait to make it.

  11. krystal says:

    Oh my, that Cappuccino looks fabulous!

  12. i love this feature. and jen’s images are gorgeous as ever. :)
    – Jessie –

  13. cjharmony says:

    these photos look so old-fashioned, so charming… a real break to everyday hectic life. thanks for pointing out the beauty of life!

  14. Kim Gray says:

    stunning photography – I can just taste that cappucino! YUM!

  15. julia says:

    Oh! My grandmother used to make this for me. I totally forgot about it since she passed away. I am so excited to try making it now!

  16. my kidney for her lighting.

    and i’m totally making this. but i won’t blog it, because my photos will probably commit ritual suicide to avoid comparison to these stunners.

  17. Miranda says:

    I wanted to say “these photos are making me hungry” but of course I don’t want to sound cliche, but honestly, these are scrumptious photos. Absolutely. Also I love that the ingredients are so common, but the result is anything but. And am I crazy or is there an owl on that top spoon?

  18. Rachel says:

    This recipe is wooonderful. My sister and I had some bonding time and made it yesterday. Today it is completely gone, and we’re thinking of making some more! Thank you thank you!

  19. Caithness says:

    I love Jen and her blog it’s on my bookmarks, I just can’t get enough of her beautiful photography. Thank you for including her here, she is obviously a woman of many talents! And I am thoroughly enjoying this section of d*s, there are too many recipes to choose from!

  20. Dorrie Altman says:

    Brava! this looks super yummy – and yep, Jewish Biscotti is the best description.

  21. Olha Pryymak says:

    yes, Jen has been a great inspiration off my rss feed for a looong time, now she inspires to bake! yey!

  22. Sarah says:

    I just tried this out, it is devine/ohh so yummy. Thank you.

  23. Priscilla says:

    Love the idea for this recipe, the lush photos. I can taste how the walnuts “disappear into the batter”. Mmm. (Mandelbrot means almond bread so this is a nice surprise.)


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