Writers Who Bake: Merril D. Smith

Mandelbrot Cookies

I’m sharing two cookie recipes because in our house they’re called “Mommy Cookies” and “Daddy Cookies.” The first is my mandelbrot cookies. They are my favorite cookies, which is why they’re called Mommy Cookies. They’re like biscotti with dark chocolate chips and cinnamon and sugar.  This recipe came from a cousin, and then I refined it. I used to bring them to archivists when I was working on my dissertation.

The other cookies are Welsh Cookies, which are cooked on a griddle or fry pan like pancakes. I’ve discovered my cast iron fry pan works great. The recipe came from my husband’s grandmother, though I’ve changed it to butter–the recipe originally used lard and margarine.

Mandelbrot (aka “Mommy Cookies”)

3 ¾ cups flour

1 cup sugar

1 cup oil

2 tsp. baking powder

3 eggs

1 tsp vanilla and a little bit of almond extract (maybe about ¼ tsp?)

dash or two of salt

Chocolate chips (I use a whole bag of Ghiardelli bittersweet chocolate chips.)

Some people might prefer less, although I can’t imagine why)

Finely chopped nuts (I use a mixture of walnuts and almonds. Maybe about ¾ cup?)

Cinnamon and sugar mixed together to sprinkle on top. Sometimes I also mix in a little bit of demerara sugar for extra crunch.

Beat eggs with whisk; then add sugar, oil, vanilla/almond. Add dry ingredients. Add chocolate chips and nuts. The dough should be able to form loaves on a cookie sheet. Add a little more flour if necessary.

Oil your hands and lightly oil 2 cookie sheetsOR use parchment paper to line the sheets. That’s what I do now. Shape the dough into 4 “loaves” on the cookie sheets. I make these cookies all the time and my loaves are never the same. Sprinkle the loaves with a mixture of cinnamon and sugar—thoroughly cover them and try to get the sides, as well.

Bake at 350 degrees for about ½ hour. Then cut each loaf into slices. Put slices back in the oven for about 8-10 minutes, turn,and put them back for another 5- 10 minutes.


Welsh Cookies

5 cups flour

1 cup sugar

3 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. nutmeg

½ tsp. mace

1 tsp. salt

 Cut into the above, as if making a piecrust, to pea-size:

3 sticks butter

 Add: 1 cup currants

3 eggs beaten with a fork with enough milk to make 1 cup liquid. (Almond milk works fine, and I imagine soy or oat milk works, too.)

 Mix well, and roll out, not too thin.

Cut—I use a round biscuit cutter or glass–and cook in fry pan or griddle—do not grease. They cook quickly.


Merril D. Smith is a historian and poet. She’s written several books on history, sexuality, and gender. In the last few years, she’s turned to writing poetry. Her walks along the Delaware River in southern New Jersey often serve as inspiration. Her work has been published most recently  in Black Bough Poetry, Anti-heroin Chic, Nightingale and Sparrow, Twist in Time, and Ekphrastic Review. Her books are available on Amazon. Most recent is a reference book: Sexual Harassment.

Blog: Yesterday and Today: Merril’s Historical Musings

Twitter: @merril_mds

Instagram: mdsmithnj

A post about Mandelbrot is here.


Editorial comment: Both cookies sound divine! That Mandelbrot, though! I’m a sucker for dark chocolate and cinnamon- yum! Thanks, Merril!

7 thoughts on “Writers Who Bake: Merril D. Smith

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