For the past few weeks, I’ve been hopping around different countries for Devour. This recipe for sleeping meringues, however, is very close to home. I’d been trying to make my grandparents meringues which were air crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside when my friend Maria Budet shared her own grandmother’s recipe, providing the missing piece that had eluded me. Mystery solved, I added a few toasted almonds and drops of vanilla but am looking forward to many variations in the next year. Thank you all for reading and I hope you’re all enjoying a happy and peaceful Christmas morning!
Posts from the ‘Cookies’ Category
Polvorones, the Spanish shortbread cookies have been my favorite for the holidays. Just flour, sugar and sometimes almonds, they’re perfect as gifts – simple but flavorful they go with everything. I was working on this spiced almond version for the Cooking Channel’s All Star Holiday Cookie Recipes post when I started thinking of mantecados. Though they’re some times used interchangeably with polvorones, mantecados should be made with lard – something I’d been avoiding despite the assurances of Michael Pollan, the Lee Bros., and legions of Cuban grandmothers. For frying it made sense, but for baked goods I associated it with heavier and denser cookies and pastries. Read more
I know it shouldn’t make a difference but I love it when food has a story and Chilean olive oil has been writing its own. Alfonso Swett who discovered small scale olive oil plantations in conditions similar to the Chilean climate on a trip through Spain, wondered why it shouldn’t be cultivated and produced in Chile as well. Olisur, an estate grown, largely sustainable operation encompassing a 6,500 acre olive groves and expecting to produce 1.7 million liters of olive oil in their next harvest, grew from this initial why not. Read more
It’s impossible to cook a Julia Child recipe without summoning her in some way. From the first moment, you can feel her peering over your shoulder – self-assured, encouraging, generous. Once you’ve started, you’ll do anything to keep her there, so I’m always on the look-out for Julia Child cookbooks. Just before my last birthday, I found a second-hand copy of From Julia Child’s Kitchen that included this recipe for les Madeleines de Commercy. When the Cooking Channel invited bloggers to celebrate her upcoming birthday by posting about one of her recipes, I knew which one I wanted to make. Read more
I hadn’t planned on re-posting this recipe until I my sister asked for Mexican Chocolate Crackle Cookies for a reading she was doing. It was a last minute request on a busy day. I gave good reasons for not making them and they were all accepted, then I decided to do it anyway. It was a chance to go through one of my favorite recipe posts and make sure I’d gotten it all down correctly, try some adjustments and maybe find some of the typos that play hide and seek when I first hit publish (though I rarely feel like playing). Click here for the original post.
I’d been burned before. Last summer I found an old recipe for Brazilian coconut candies called brasileiras. I put all the ingredients together as directed – egg yolks, freshly shredded coconut, sugar – but they wanted nothing to do with each other. I Googled “brasilerias” to find my mistake but the results were (not surprisingly) unhelpful. A few weeks later, I attempted beijinhos de coco or “coconut kisses”. Similar to the brasileiras, they’re a combination of condensed milk, butter, and grated coconut that are rolled into balls and decorated with a single clove. This version called for a final dip in chocolate and almonds. I should have known when I wasn’t able to form the coconut into balls, mounds or anything like it that I’d made a mistake somewhere. I kept going anyway, making an expensive chocolate almond mess. I pretended they were edible, but after a day or two, I stopped kidding myself and threw the rest away. I hadn’t looked a coconut in the eyes since. Read more
I’ve become deeply suspicious of Cuban cookies. It’s not really the cookie’s fault. They’re just not what we do. Growing up, home baked cookies weren’t foreign but they did have the exoticism of something you’d mostly like get at a friend’s house. Tres leches, meringues, tocino del cielo, flan were home, toll house was not. The last couple of months, I’ve tried a few forgettable variations. I follow the recipes to the letter but cusubes elude me and my caballitos de queque were cinnamon drenched failures. This being the cookie season, I looked though all my Cuban sources for a new recipe that was traditional but workable. Many called for Crisco with 1950’s abandon while others were really turrones (blended with more Crisco). Read more
I had resolved to take a dessert break last week but made an exception for this batch of Mexican Chocolate Crackle Cookies from The Art & Soul of Baking by Cindy Mushet. They were made on request to take as a gift so I wasn’t tempted for long, though the box did go out 1 or 2 or 3 light. Similar to nutty Mexican polvorones known as wedding cookies here, the recipe calls for added chocolate, coffee, and optional ancho chile powder. Though the recipes in the book are pretty foolproof, I didn’t think the chile could only be optional if they were to give an authentically Mexican kick to the crackles. Read more
I was in the final stretch of making Sunday lunch for my uncle and favorite cooking aunt, debating where I should buy a jar of dulce de leche to add to the polovorones or shortbread cookies I’d made earlier. The gourmet shops nearby carry the good but expensive La Salamandra while the Colombian stores have a wider selection but seemed too far away in Queens. I decided to make my own instead. Though I knew it was easily done at home, I’d always avoided it in the past. Worried about exploding cans, we’d take them off heat too early and end up with milky mustard instead of a deep caramel (though it was still happily eaten). I found these recipes on From Argentina With Love for making dulce de leche at home that skipped the treacherous can boiling. Unwilling to face yet another grocery store run to buy whole milk, I tried the second version where a can of condensed milk is cooked in the top of a double boiler over a pan half filled with water. Though it takes 2 to 2 1/2 hours, it only needs to be checked and stirred about every 45 minutes freeing me up to work on other things. Because I’d rolled the polvorones thinner than usual, I watched the cookies closely and shortened the baking time to 10 minutes. I let the dulce de leche cook the entire time for a thicker consistency. Too rich to spread, it was the right consistency for holding together the crumbly cookies. A painless last minute (+two hour) solution. Read more
This week I’ve been practicing my Abuela Carmita’s natilla, a traditional custard similar to the Spanish crema catalana. A teacher in Cuba, my sister and I were left with her in the morning to learn Spanish which our parents worried we’d forget. After making us cafe con leche with toast (sliced in thirds and sprinkled with sugar), she would start the natilla early so it would have time to chill. Setting aside the whites to make meringues later, she’d heat the milk and beat the egg yolks. My sister and I would watch her stir, ready to fight over the wooden spoon and the raspa left behind in the still warm pot after she’d poured out the custard into individual blue bowls. Mixing the meringue with my grandfather, they’d piped it into tiny mounds and set them to bake, then he would make lunch while we sat down to our lessons. Lamenting that if we still lived in Cuba we’d be learning French instead, she’d lead us through the letters and rhymes in our silabarios until lunch was ready. When it was finally time for dessert, my grandfather’s bowl would have the cinnamon stick and lime peel (not sure why) while ours had our initials written across the top in cinnamon (which I just realized is almost impossible to do). The crisp meringues would disappear in a puff leaving behind a slightly soft center while the custard was smooth and creamy but held its form. Teaching myself the recipe, I worried that the yolks would scramble and spent almost an hour in my sweltering kitchen stirring one batch over too little heat. Remembering her easy patience, I tried again. Getting it right on my third attempt, I can’t stop going to my refrigerator to look down at the same blue bowls finally full of my grandmother’s natilla. Read more