Why is it that as we get a certain age we become nostalgic for our childhood favorites? I think that no matter how old we are, those things that we loved as a child transport us to simpler times, happy times… As a child growing up in family of ten, some of my favorite things seem to always revolve around different foods and aromas. The aroma of tamales steaming, chiles roasting on the comal and the sweet aromas when you walk into the Mexican bakeries, La Panaderia. Those are things that stay with you forever. I remember following close behind my Mom or Dad as they placed the fresh baked pan dulce onto the tray. It was always in my best interest to make that trip with them, to ensure I got to pick out my favorite Mexican sweet bread. Two of my favorite’s were and still are were called “besos” (kisses) and “ojo de buey”(eye of the ox), ha, ha, ha! Sometimes the literal translations just don’t translate well, but you getthe idea. Besos are a puffed up sandwich soft cookie with assorted fruit fillings, brushed with melted butter and dusted in fine sugar. The ojo de buey is similar in shape with a raspberry filling, brushed with more raspberry filling and coated with fluffly shredded coconut. So for me this version is the best of both of those. This recipe was adapted from a recipe I found called Scottish Snowballs. I would love to find the authentic recipe for the Mexican version, but that is not always an easy task. And most times if you do find something, it is written for commercial bakeries and is almost impossible to convert to a homecook’s version. So, with my added touches to the scottish recipe, I am very happy with how this recipe turned out. It may not be the original, but it sure did transport me back to la panaderia.
Besos de Coco ~ Snowball Kisses
3/4 cup sugar 4 large eggs 1 teaspoon coconut extract Zest of 1 lemon 1 1/4 cups, plus 2 tablepoons flour, sifted Pinch of salt Your favorite jam, preserves or dulce de leche
For Icing 1 cup powdered sugar 2 tablespoons warm water 1 tablespoon lemon juice 1 teaspoon vanilla 1 cup shredded coconut (I used unsweetened)
1. In a large bowl, combine the sugar and eggs. Whisk for 8 to 10 minutes. Mix in the coconut extract and lemon zest
2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line two baking shetes with parchment paper. Fold in the flour and salt t just until incorporated. Onto each
baking sheet, drop 12 cookies (about 2 tablespoons of batter). Try to make them as round as possible. Bake for 5 to 6 minutes.
3. Let the cookies cool for a few minutes before removing them from baking sheets. Transfer to a wire rack to cool the rest of the way.
4. Take 12 of the cookies and fill the flat side with about 1 tablespoon of filling. Spread out evenly. Top with another plain cookie, flat side onto filling. In a bowl, add the powdered sugar. Mix in the hot water, lemon juice and vanilla until smooth. Dip one half into glaze and then press into coconut until evenly coated. Repeat with the other half of cookie. Place back onto wire rack until cookies set and dry. Yields 12 sandwich cookies.
For quite sometime I have been searchingfor a sweet, soft yeast dough for preparing empanadas. I have worked with several yeast doughs for pizza, Mexican sweet bread, conchas, pan de huevo and pan de muerto in the passed. Finally a few weeks ago, I saw a picture on Pinterest of what looked like those dark brown, soft pumpkin empanadas my Mom used to purchase at la panaderia. I quickly looked it up and as I read, it sounded just like what I was looking for. Of course the measurements were not in cups and teaspoons, but in kilos and grams. And a recipe with quantities that could feed a whole quiñceanera party, lol! So after a few conversions here and there and a few La Piña added touches, this is what I came up with. I cannot say enough about this dough recipe. If you like a dough that’s easy to work with and bakes up soft and stays soft for days, this one is it! nd the recipe for Pan de Huevo/Conchas that follows is revised from the first several times I prepared the sweet bread. I had learn a few baking tips and was eager to try them out. The pan de huevo was also softer than all the previous time I had prepared it. It’s like I always tell myself when I feel unsure about something, “You will never know until you try”. Glad I tried, and tried and tried again…one never stops learning.
Brown Sugar and Cinnamon Soft Yeast Dough For Empanadas
Brown Sugar and Cinnamon Yeast Dough For Empanadas
4 cups bread flour, sifted 1/2 cup shortening 1/2 cup light brown sugar 1 tablespoon active dry yeast 2 large eggs, beaten 1 tablespoon cinnamon 1 1/4 to 1 1/3 cups warm milk
1. Sift the flour into a large bowl. Cut in the shortening until you have small crumbles. Cut in the sugar and yeast until well incorporated.
2. Mix in the eggs and cinnamon. Gradually add in the warm milk until dough forms. Transfer to a flat surface and knead for 6 to 8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, cover and let rise at room temperature for 2 to 2 1/2 hours.
3. Once dough rises, preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper, set aside. Pull off enough dough to make a 1 1/2 ounce dough ball. Roll out to about 4 inches in diameter. Fill with 2 tablespoons of filling. Fold over and press gently around the filling to take out any air. Gently press with the palm of your hand.
4. Using your index finger, make an indentation starting at one end of empanada. Push in and with your thumb and index finger slighlty pinch to seal. Do this all the way across open end. Repeat until done and transfer onto lined baking sheets. Brush the tops of empanadas with egg wash or milk and quickly sprinkle with turbinado sugar or toasted coconut on top. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown. Yields up to 24 empanadas.
Tips~ I have tried several things to prevent the dulce de leche from leaking out of the empanadas. One is to whisk in an egg yolk with the dulce de leche before using it as a filling. The other is to brush some eggwash on the edge of empanada when you get ready to seal them. Either way, some may still leak a little. So what I do when they come out of the oven, is I take a spatula and lift the hot dulce de leche and smear it over the top of the empanada, lol! Hey, it works!
Pan de Huevo~ Conchas
Pan de Huevo ~Conchas
Ingredients 1 tablespoon active dry yeast 1 tablespoon sugar or honey 1 cup warm water (110 to 115 degres F)
For Topping 1/2 cup butter, room temp. 1/2 cup powdered sugar 1/2 cup sugar 1 cup flour 2 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon 3 teaspoons vanilla
Tips~ If you want a colored topping, you could add a few drops of food coloring while you mix the ingredients together.
1. In a bowl, combine the yeast, honey and water. Let set for 10 minutes.
2. Cream together the 1/2 cup sugar and 1/4 cup shortening. Mix in the eggs, salt and yeast/water mixture. Place flour, anise seeds and cinnamon in a large bowl, make a well and add in the wet ingredients. Knead for 10 to 15 minutes.
3. Transfer the dough to a greased bowl. Cover and let rise for 1 hour. Punch down and divide into 12 balls. Place on greased baking sheet, press down lightly. Cover loosely and let rise for 1 hour. I had a problem with the dough sticking to paper and towel, so I put some toothpicks in the rolls and covered them loosely with plastic wrap.
4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. While the conchas rise the last hour, prepare the topping. When ready, roll 2 tablespoons of topping into a ball and flatten into a round disc. Place over pan de huevo and score with a knife, careful not to cut into bread. Bake in preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool completely before storing in an airtight container with a slice of sandwich bread. This will help them stay moist for a couple of days. Best thing to do is to enjoy them while they are fresh. Yields 12 Pan de Huevo/Conchas.
Tips~ If you have a difficult time working with the topping, you could brush the rolls with milk or eggwash. While they are wet, add some of the crumbled topping on top. Bake as usual.
Tips~ To help dough rise, preheat oven to 200 degrees for 5 minutes. Shut off and place bowl in oven. I di not try this yet, but I will next time.
Today’s blog post is dedicated to Pan Dulce, Mexican sweet breads and cookies. Trips to la panaderia (mexican bakery) were a Sunday ritual in our house. Warm bolillos, pan de huevo, cuernitos, marranitos, hojarascas andsemitas were just some of the tasty fresh baked goods to choose from. My first job was at a Mexican panaderia, El Mejor PanBakery in Houston, Texas. I learned all the names and still remember that distinct aroma of breads baking when I walked in the door to go to work.
After getting married and moving to central New York, la panaderia, and all of it’s delicious treats soon became a distant memory. No Mexican bakeries for hundreds of miles, ha ha!! It soon became my quest to try and recreate some of the recipes I loved the most. And because of the popularity of Mexican food, there are many, many recipes being published. It’s a great trip down memory lane! My first entry is Polvorones de Nuez…
Polvorones de Nuez, also known as the Mexican Wedding Cookies when rolled round and dredged in powdered sugar. My Mom would prepare an almost identical version of this cookie, but we grew up knowing them as hojarascas. The flavors and textures are all the same. The original recipe was prepared with pork manteca (lard), but eventually my Mom switched over to vegetable shortening. For this recipe I used butter and saved my manteca for my carnitas instead, lol!
2 sticks unsalted butter, shortening or the traditional lard…yes, lard…lol!
4 tablespoons powdered sugar
1/3 teaspoon anise seeds
1/3 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 full teaspoon of vanilla bean paste
2 cups all purpose flour
* 1 cup finely crushed pecans, optional
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Cream the butter, add powdered sugar, anise, cinnamon, salt and vanilla bean paste. Mix until smooth and creamy. Gradually mix in the flour until dough forms. It will be crumbly. if adding pecans, add them in now and fold them in as best you can.
2. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Roll 30 dough balls and divide between the two baking sheets. You could leave the polvorones round, or you could flatten them slightly as I did. I used the bottom of a glass.
3. Bake in preheated oven, one sheet at a time, for 13 to15 minutes, turning pan halfway through the baking time. This will help them bake more evenly.
4. If using sprinkles, they must go onto the cookies before baking. For cinnamon and sugar, gently dredge them in a mix of cinnamon/sugar while they are still slightly warm out of the oven. For powdered sugar, sift over cookies, or roll them in the powdered sugar once cooled. Let cool completely before storing in an airtight container. Yields 30 cookies
Polvorenes~Galletas Mexican Shortbread Cookies. Click onto picture for full recipe at the Hispanic Kitchen.
Empanadas de Manzana con Nuez y Pasas (Apple Pecan Raisin Empanadas)
For Dough 1 3/4 cup all purpose flour 2 teaspoons sugar 1 teaspoon baking powder 1 teaspoon cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon ground anise 1/2 cup shortening 1 large egg 1/4 cup milk 1 teaspoon vanilla
For Apple Pecan Raisin Filling 5 cups granny smith apples, peeled and diced fine (I like to mix in some cortland apples if available) 1/3 cup dark brown sugar 1/2 stick unsalted butter 1 teaspoon apple pie spice 1/3 teaspoon salt 1/3 teaspoon cinnamon 1/3 cup raisins 3/4 cup finely chopped pecans
1. In a large bowl, sift the dry ingredients for the dough. Cut in the shortening until well combined. Whisk the egg, milk and vanilla together. Gradually add the wet ingredients into the flour mixture until dough forms, adding a little flour if needed. Cover and let sit until ready to use.
2. For filling, combine all of the ingredients in a skillet. Cook at medium/low heat for 35 to 45 minutes, stirring often, until the sauce reduces and becomes thick. Remove from heat and let cool.
3. Once filling has cooled. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, set aside. Divide the dough into 12 equal dough balls. Line a tortilla press with a plastic freezer bag, cut to fit. Flatten dough ball to about 4 inches in diameter. Fill with a couple of tablespoons of filling. Fold over and seal with fork or use your fingers to pinch and fold over.
4. Once all empanadas are filled, brush with milk and sprinkle immediately with turbinado sugar so it sticks. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown, rotating pan halfway through baking time. Transfer to the broiler for just under a minute to caramelize the sugar a little bit more. remove from oven and let cool slightly before serving. Yields 12 large empanadas.
Gorditas de Canela/Anis y Piloncillo (Brown Sugar Gorditas with Cinnamon & Anise)
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup piloncillo, grated or light brown sugar (packed)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 teaspoon ground anise
1/3 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup milk
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1. Mix all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Cut in the butter until small granules form. Whisk the milk,egg and vanilla together. Gradually add in the milk/egg mixture until dough forms. If too sticky, add a little more flour. Dough should be tacky, but not sticky, lol! Roll 14 to 16 dough balls, cover and let rest for 20 minutes.
2. Preheat a large comal or griddle pan to just below medium heat for 5 minutes. On a lightly floured surface roll out the dough balls to about 31/2 inches in diameter. Cook on hot comal/griddle for 2 to 3 minutes per side or until nicely browned. It should start to bubble as soon as it hits the hot surface. Transfer to a clean kitchen towel to keep warm. Make 14 to 16 gorditas.
La Panaderia’s Mexican Pink Cake, My version…. Click onto picture for full recipe at the Hispanic Kitchen.
Marranitos~Cochinitos. Click onto picture for full recipe at the Hispanic Kitchen.
Hojarascas with Dark Mexican Chocolate and Orange Zest. On most days when I prepare a batch of Hojarascas, I like ato add a little twist. Not that the traditional way is not delicious enough, but a girls just gotta play in her own kitchen sometimes, lol! I enjoy testing out different combinations. Sometimes they work! But you won’t know until you try…
Hojarascas with Orange Zest and Dark Mexican Chocolate
1 cup shortening or butter at room temperature 1/2 cup sugar 2 egg yolks 1/2 teaspoon of ground anise 1/3 teaspoon anise seeds 1/3 teaspoon cinnamon 1/4 cup orange juice 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder 3 cups flour 3/4 cup finely crushed pecans, optional
For Chocolate topping 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips 1 1/2 ounces Mexican chocolate (Abuelita brand), broken into smaller pieces 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon 1 1/2 teaspoons shortening Zest of 1 large orange
*Turbinado sugar or sugar in the raw for sprinkling, optional
1. Cream the shortening and sugar together. With the mixer running on low, add in the ingredients in the order listed while mixing. When you get to the flour, you may have to finish mixing by hand if it gets too thick. Fold in the pecans, cover and let rest for 20 minutes.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Roll 24 balls and place on baking sheets evenly. Using a flat bottomed glass, flatten the hojarascas slighlty. If the glass sticks, dip it in a little flour before using to flatten cookies. Bake for 14 to 17 minutes or until the edges turn light brown. Rotate the pans halfway through baking time. Remove from oven and let cool.
3. For topping, add the Mexican chocolate to a glass bowl. Heat in microwave for 30 to 40 seconds to soften and melt. Add 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips, cinnamon and shortening. Microwave on high at 20 seconds intervals, mixing in between each time, until chocolate is smooth. Add a full teaspoon to each cookie, swirling around to spread out evenly. Add orange zest and sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Yields 24 cookies. Let sit at room temperature until chocolate sets before storing in a loosely covered container.
Dulce de Leche Macaroons with Dark Chocolate and Sea Salt, not a traditional Panaderia treat, but still worth adding.
5 cups unsweetened coconut (you can use sweetened if you like)
2 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
13 ounce can La Lecheradulce de leche
1/8 cup milk
2 large egg whites, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons Mexican vanilla extract
18 dark chocolate kisses Coarse sea salt, optional for sprinkling onto chocolate
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. Mix dry ingredients in one bowl. In another bowl, whisk all the wet ingredients and add to the dry.
3. Using two spoons drop mounds onto lined baking sheets. Bake in preheated oven for 18 minutes.While still warm, top with chocolate kisses. When chocolate softens and melts, sprinkle with sea salt. I added sprinkles to some of them as well, just for fun! Yields 18 large macaroons.
Tips~ Let the macaroons cool at room temperature. Cover them loosley with wax paper. They will soften overnight.
How to Make Conchas/Pan de Huevo. This was a fun recipe I developed for Que Rica Vida. Step by step directions on how to prepare conchas or pan de huevo right in your own kitchen.
Empanadas de Piña. These perfect little empanadas filled with homemadepineapple filling is a family recipe that was shared with me by my Tía Minerva. On my last trip to Mexico, in 2011, I was fortunate enough to be able to spend a whole month with her. We cooked together and she told me stories of my grandparents and their life together that I had never known. These family recipes hold a very special place in my heart. Entered May 14, 2014
3½ cups flour 1¼ cups shortening ½cup water
½ teaspoon anise seeds
1-inch piece cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder ½cup sugar, plus more for dusting
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon for dusting
For Pineapple Filling 2 cups finely chopped, fresh pineapple ¾ cup dark brown sugar or piloncillo, if available
2 tablespoons lemon juice ¼ cup cold water
1 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
1. Combine the anise seeds, cinnamon stick, and ½ cup of water. Steep (cook) in the microwave for 1½ minutes, strain and set aside. Melt the shortening in a microwave-safe bowl, add the tea and stir gently stir. In another bowl, combine the dry ingredients and stir well to combine. Gradually add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients, until the dough forms and is no longer sticky. You may need to add a little more flour. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let it rest.2. While the dough is resting, make your pineapple filling. In a large nonstick skillet, add the fresh pineapple and heat to medium heat. Add the brown sugar and 2 tablespoons lemon juice, stir well to combine. Lower the heat and continue cooking for 20 to 25 minutes, until most of the liquid is absorbed. In a small bowl, make a slurry of 1 tablespoon cornstarch with ¼ cup of cold water. Mix together, making sure there are no lumps. Add the slurry to the cooking pineapple, stir well. Cook for another 5 to 7 minutes. Let filling cool.
3. When filling is cool and dough has rested, form 20 to 24(1½-inch) dough balls and set aside. Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Take one dough ball at a time and press in tortilla press lined with wax paper, fill with 1½ to 2 tablespoons of filling. Fold over, and using a fork, or your fingers, press edges together to seal empanada.4. Transfer empanadas to a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown. In a small bowl combine 1 cup sugar with 2 tablespoons of ground cinnamon. While still slightly warm, roll in a cinnamon/sugar mixture. Yields 24 small empanadas.
Tips~ I like to place the empanadas under the broiler just long enough to brown the tops of the empanadas before removing from oven.
Empanaditas de Cajeta y de Chocolate, Blog Entry May 23, 2014. Every time I prepare this family recipe for empanada dough, I try something a little different. This time, instead of melting the shortening, I cut it into the flour. And instead of just using all shortening, I added manteca (lard) which is typically used in Mexican empanada dough recipes. I loved It!!!! This was a special batch prepared for a facebook friend Heather, that lives near Chicago. Shipping and hoping they arrive in one piece…#laboroflove
1 3/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon crushed anise seeds
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons sugar
3 1/2 tablespoons manteca, lard
3 1/2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
2/3 cup warm water
1/3 to 1/2 cup dulce de leche caramel
1/3 to 1/2 cup mini semi sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup cinnamon/sugar mixture
1. Combine the dry ingredients. Using a pastry cutter or your fingers, cut in the manteca and shortening until you have pea size pieces.
2. Gradually add in water until dough forms, transfer to a flat surface and knead for 5 to 6 minutes, adding water as needed. Cover and let dough rest for 30 minutes.
3. Make 16 equal dough balls, keep covered so they don’t dry out. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
4. Using a lined tortilla press or the bottom of a flat plate, press out disc. Fill with 1 tablespoon cajeta or mini chocolate chips. Fold over and seal with fork or pinch and fold up with you thumb and finger to seal. Pierce the tops gently to create vent holes.Top the chocolate ones with a few mini chips.
5. Bake in preheated 375 degree F. oven for 25 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes. While still warm, dredge the dulce de leche empanadas through cinnamon and sugar. Sprinkle the chocolate empanadas with cinnamon and suagr. Yields 16 small empanadas. Let cool completely before storing in an airtight container.
Tips~ I like using a quart size freezer bag to line my tortilla press. The dulce de leche (cajeta) will usually leak out, so don’t panic, lol! I have not learned the secret to keep it from doing that yet.
Embracing my Mexican heritage and sharing all the wonderful flavors, colors and foods I grew up with. Join me on this journey as I also learn new foods and cooking techniques. Dedicated to my parents Ramiro and Blanca.