In my Brooklyn neighborhood, I’ve noticed the windows of Italian bakeries steadily filling with Easter cakes and breads during the past few weeks. While the marzipan lambs and braided loaves stuffed with dyed eggs are lovely eye candy, they only reminded me how badly I wanted to make my own Argentinian rosca de pascua this year. The brioche-like bread that is shaped into a ring, covered in pastry cream and topped with candied cherries or almonds is traditionally sold in Argentinian bakeries in the week leading up to Easter. Like the Italian version, hard-boiled eggs are sometimes baked into the bread, but chocolate eggs have become a popular substitute.
I decided to keep this recipe simple by brushing the loaf with a light glaze and then covering it with toasted almonds. Instead of dyed eggs, I added a few Jordan almonds for their shape and color. To ensure an even layer of rich cream throughout, I used pastry cream as the bread’s filling. If the Latin American rosca de reyes marks the end of the winter holiday season and its cousin the Mardi Gras Louisiana king cake signals the beginning of Lent, then the Argentinian rosca de pascua lets you pick up right where the others left off.
Rosca de Pascua (Argentinian Easter Cake)
Continue Reading Rosca de Pascua: Argentinian Easter Cake with Jordan Almonds
Dulce de leche has become such an established cross-over success – easily made at home or store-bought, found in big brand ice cream and even all-American girl scout cookies - that it’s hard to remember the excitement when it first hit markets. Until the early nineties, it was the once-in-a-while treat my uncle might bring from business trips to Chile or Peru (where it was introduced to us as manjar blanco) or that a Colombian friend shared from home (where it went by arequipe).
Alfajores – small sandwich cookies traditionally filled with dulce de leche then rolled in coconut or powdered sugar – came later. Popular throughout South America, they’re also shaped into large, multi-layered tarts topped with meringue or crushed almonds. A rustic version of the mille-feuille, these sky-high tarts alternately known as alfajor de mil capas or torta de mil hojas can be made from large crumbly crackers or delicate puff pastry.
Using a simple shortbread recipe, this alfajor tart sprinkled with toasted coconut falls somewhere in between. The dough is rolled out into thin, flat discs that, when baked, easily break apart against the dense, caramel filling. Prepared the day ahead, the layers melding together while maintaining crispy edges, it’s no less delicious for being perfectly familiar.
Continue Reading Alfajores Get Reinvented as a Dulce de Leche Tart
On a recent vacation, I had a waiter tell me about an exciting new dessert they had on the menu. He then tick off the ingredients to a perfectly ordinary key lime pie (I opted for the chocolate tamales instead).
It always strikes me how everyday comfort foods take on an exotic glow when they cross borders. I thought of this when I was looking for variations on mote con huesillos, a refreshing summer dessert beverage that’s sold all over Chile: from street carts, prepackaged and bottled in stores, or mixed up at home. Dried peaches (huesillos) are soaked overnight then poached in a light syrup with caramelized sugar. Once chilled, the meltingly sweet peaches are poured over tender wheat grain (mote de trigo) then scooped out a little at a time.
Stateside you may be as American as apple pie but in Chile you can be más chileno que el mote con huesillos. They couldn’t be more different, but whether it’s new or familiar, they’d both be welcome at a barbecue, whatever part of the world you’re in.
Continue Reading Sweet Summer Drink: Mote con Huesillos Recipe
Caitlin Zaino, The Urban Grocer
Steak, empanadas, Malbec. Think of food in Buenos Aires and these classics are probably first to spring to mind. But boundless imagination and a dynamic, young spirit are re-inventing cuisine in this South American city; Buenos Aires is having a culinary coming-of-age. Join me as I dive in to the changing food scene here, on a quest to discover what it’s all about.
Continue Reading Reinventing the Cuisine of Buenos Aires