The Spanish do a lot of things really well, such as napping, relaxing, eating jamón, and drinking Cruzcampo. But one thing they’re not very good at is desserts. This is surprising considering what a pleasure seeking society it is. I think they would enjoy sitting around on Sundays eating cupcakes. Take the following example as evidence:
The staff Christmas dinner at my school featured shrimp and arugula salad, salmon rolls, and pork covered in a sweet onion sauce. It was every bit as mouth watering is it sounds. But then for dessert: a Mercadona-bought frozen concoction I can’t even call a cake. It was something with generic, bland chocolate and cream, which was taken out of the box right there on the beautiful table. Quite classy.
Therefore, for Valentine’s Day, I thought I would share some traditional American baking. I present to you, the best cookies in the world. No, I didn’t stutter. I don’t ordinarily make claims like that, but I have yet, in my almost 24 years, to find a better cookie. I have grown up making these cookies with my mom every year for Christmas and other holidays. Allow me to share the beautiful process with you:
|Try not to stab yourself while you do this|
|The secret ingredients, especially the almond|
Then cream the sugar with a cup of softened butter. Since you don’t have an electric mixer here in Spain, this needs to be done by hand and will require some elbow grease. Roll up your sleeves and get working.
Add one egg. Then go to the airport, get on the next plane to anywhere in the United States, and go to any grocery store where you will purchase the secret ingredient which, to my knowledge, does not exist in Spain: almond extract. Add a teaspoon of this liquid gold and a teaspoon of vanilla extract, which does exist here, but feel free to bring that from America too where it’s cheaper.
|But you probably don’t want to taste it quite yet|
Mix that all together. It will smell like heaven, and should look something like this.
Now, half a cup at a time, mix in two and a half cups of flour. Again this would be absurdly easy with a mixer, but you’re putting some muscles to work. The delicious product, which I challenge you to only have one finger-full of, will look like this ————>
Chill the dough overnight. Threaten with death all others living with you if they eat all the dough before you get back to it. If no such precautions are taken, there will be just an empty bowl in the fridge in the morning. Once that is taken care of, the fun part begins.
Flour a cutting board and roll out the dough to about 1/4 inch thick. If you have no rolling pin a wine bottle will do. Use cookie cutters (or a knife if you have none) to cut out your desired shapes. Place on baking sheets, and bake at 375°F/190°C for about 10 minutes until the edges just barely begin to turn brown. Enjoy the finished product straight out of the oven, and decide who in your life is important enough to share these with.
|Is your mouth watering yet?|
I brought these to school on Valentine’s Day and put them out on the table in the staff lounge at break. To say they were enjoyed would be the understatement of the year. Some, if not most, had never had homemade baked goods before. Most Spanish kitchens don’t even have ovens. I got comment after comment about how rica and buenísima they were. You made these? Yes. In an oven? Yes. What are they made of? Flour, sugar, eggs…
Sharing these cookies with my colleagues was like literally bringing a piece of my home. They all now know precisely the smell and taste that will always bring me back to my mom’s kitchen. I think for the day, I definitely fulfilled the “sharing my culture” part of my job description.