Cheesecake. It is my weakness.
I vividly remember my first cheesecake. I actually made it after watching my mentor on her TV show – Dia a Dia con Maria Rosa. […]
Arroz con leche, me quiero casar,
Con una señorita de San Nicolás,
Que sepa coser, que sepa bordar,
Que sepa abrir la puerta para ir a jugar.
If you lived in Ecuador – or in any Latin American country as a child, you most likely remember singing this tune in the playground with your friends. This one, called a ronda (a round – basically a circle formed by people holding hands, like Ring around the Rosie), was a popular one among us kids. Back in kindergarden, this one was a must during recess. We ate our lunch as fast as we could so we could go outside and play. We formed our circle and sang until the teacher came out yelling to come back inside the bell rang.
Arroz con leche reminds me of simpler times, perhaps because it is so easy to make. It tastes sweet, like childhood. Let’s revert back to simpler times, shall we?
I bought a cake doughnut pan last week. I have no where to fit it in my kitchen drawers, but I concluded I desperately needed one. What prompted me to such need was a dream the night before of El Señor Hubs and I strolling down the Lower East Side in New York City, and stopping by The Donut Plant for our weekend doughnut and iced coffee fix. These dreams really happened. I would normally get the blueberry cake doughnut or the dulce de leche cake doughnut. El Señor Hubs would more often that not get the PB&J doughnut. You must know cake doughnuts rock, and in my mind, baking them makes them a “healthier” alternative to fried doughnuts. Boy. I am really fooling myself, aren’t I?
I decided if I was to make cake doughnuts, I had to take them to the next level. I combined my love for alfajores and cake doughnuts, and came up with an Alfajor cake doughnut. The best of both worlds. It’s like the liger, bred for its skills in magic.
If you recall, I’ve made alfajores before, using my tia’s recipe. Alfajores are these soft, sandwich cookies, with dulce de leche filling. Traditionally from Argentina, alfajores sometimes use crushed almonds in the dough. Once baked and filled, the oozing dulce de leche from these sweet sandwiches is then covered with coconut flakes. Are you hungry yet?
I modified the cake doughnut recipe that came with the pan to make a soft, bouncy and delectable dulce de leche, toasted coconut and almond cake doughnut. Try saying that three times fast. GO! Actually, let’s GO and make these doughnuts!
I wanted to find a way to incorporate a bit of Ecuador into the holiday season I love so much and is now part of my life: Thanksgiving. You see, in Ecuador we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving. However, going to an American bilingual school in Ecuador exposed me to the Thanksgiving celebration via history lessons and re-enactments of the Mayflower arriving to the US coast. In grade school we made turkey macaroni and dried beans art, dressed up like pilgrims and native American Indians, and ran around the school all Thursday long. But once the school day ended, there was no concept of getting together as a family, being thankful for what we have, and gorging insane amounts of turkey and stuffing followed by a tryptophan-induced coma. Yay for Thanksgiving!
So I figured, why not make an empanada? Since the filling requires un zapallo bien maduro, AKA a sweet and ripe pumpkin, this was the perfect way to get it done. This filling also has chochos (lupini beans), a bit of Frangelico, naranjilla pulp, brown sugar, lemon zest and allspice to round up the sweetness and spice, and give it an Ecuadorian flare.
Now, you’re probably thinking WHY in the WORLD would you add BEANS to a sweet pumpkin filling?! Let me explain. Chochos have a nutty flavor, and when incorporated into this filling they taste more like a slivered, blanched almond than an actual bean. I think that if you are allergic to almonds/nuts, but love that crunchy texture that they have and give to a dessert, THIS is the way to go. Also, I ended up with a greater filling to empanada ratio. How about using this filling to top off some pancakes? OR… IN the pancake mixture! Or scoop some of this filling over some greek yogurt for a quick dessert? Or grab a spoon and just eat it straight from the bowl! The possibilities are endless…
I had forgotten how deliciously sweet these empanadas were! I am so glad that making them made me remember. The filling may look strange when you look at the ingredients that go into it, but they all mesh so well and you basically end up with a custard-like mixture that melts in your mouth. Now, the downside is that this empanada is fried. While I have not baked them using this dough I don’t see why you couldn’t make them baked. However, a main characteristic of these empanadas is that they are dusted with sugar once they are fried. Baking them probably doesn’t allow for the sugar to stick.
Empanadas de mejido are mostly typical of the Andes region of Ecuador, and I remember eating them during family trips to Quito and Riobamba when I was very, very young. In Guayaquil, I mostly remember empanadas de queso, which basically have the same dough, but you only stuff them with a bit of cheese. Empanadas de queso are also fried and they are also dusted with sugar. Sugar and cheese = AWESOMENESS.