Nana's Mandelbrot

Submitted by Amy Scully

Fannie Polirer Strassner at her 75th birthday party.  Image courtesy of Amy Scully

Fannie Polirer Strassner at her 75th birthday party. Image courtesy of Amy Scully

My great grandmother Fannie Polirer Strassner’s chocolate chip Mandelbrot is a bestseller every year at the Big Nosh. The Big Nosh had its roots in the Tree of Life Food Festival, and the bake sale table has been a staple at the event. Julie Strauss and I have chaired the bake sale table since long-time member Libby Paul, of blessed memory, stepped down. The bake sale table is always a favorite of our customers and they come back year after year asking for items from years past. And every year our wonderful Tree of Life bakers fill the tables with mouthwatering treats. Big sellers include anything that is a traditional Jewish dessert, such as Ruth Marcus’ and Carolyn Conway’s rugelach, hamentaschen, babka, challah and more. Nontraditional desserts are available as well, including gluten free options. This year, the Big Nosh will take place on Sunday, May 5 at the Tree of Life, 6719 North Trenholm Road, Columbia, SC. from 11 am until 3 pm. Admission is FREE! Come and get your NOSH on!

Julie Strauss with Amy Scully at the 2018 Big Nosh.  Image courtesy of Amy Scully

Julie Strauss with Amy Scully at the 2018 Big Nosh. Image courtesy of Amy Scully

My nana was born in Rava Ruska, Austria (now Poland) in 1895. She emigrated to New York City in 1909 and lived with relatives. After her marriage to Abraham Strassner in 1910, at the age of 15, she moved to the Lower East Side of Manhattan, where she lived until 1937 when she and her husband moved to Monticello, NY. She was the mother of eight children, seven who survived, and a wonderful cook and baker. However, Yiddish was her language of choice so to use her recipes we had to follow her around the kitchen and write down everything she was doing. The language barrier made it difficult but complicating matters was that she didn’t measure anything. Despite the language barrier we were close, and I always felt her love of family and for me.

Fannie Polirer Strassner at her 75th birthday party with her seven children and their spouses.  Image courtesy of Amy Scully

Fannie Polirer Strassner at her 75th birthday party with her seven children and their spouses. Image courtesy of Amy Scully

I learned the hard way that the ingredients need to be added in the exact order for the consistency to be correct.

Nana’s Mandelbrot (add ingredients in exact order)

  • 3 eggs

  • 1 tsp almond extract

  • 3/4 cup of canola oil

  • 1 cup of sugar

  • 3 tsp of baking powder

  • 3 1/2 cups of flour

  • 1 cup of chocolate chips (I usually add extra chips)

Mix all ingredients by hand.

Shape in to 3 equal ovals.

Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.

Slice and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.

About the author, Amy Scully

My husband, Rob, and I moved to Columbia, SC in 1987 from upstate NY with Rob’s company and after 30+ years consider Columbia home. We raised our son, Matthew, in Columbia where he attended religious school, became a Bar Mitzvah, and was confirmed at the Tree of Life amongst our extended family. My mother and father, Harriet and Elliott Posner, spent the winter months in Columbia, SC where they too found a home at Tree of Life. In 2012, my mother moved to Columbia permanently where she still resides.