While you are reading these lines, I will be busy packing my suitcase for Christmas. We are going to visit my parents in law in Spain and I will probably be debating which baking utensils to take along for the trip. I am really looking forward to celebrating Christmas with my Colombian family. Colombian Christmas is very different from German Christmas. There is going to be a lot of dancing, a lot of joy, sparkle and food, so much food. I can’t tell you for how long my mother-in-law has been talking about what she is going to make as a special treat for us and what her ideas are for the Christmas menu. In Colombian culture food is extremely important. I am going to suggest to her that we make Uruguayan flan as the Christmas dessert. Why? Because flan needs to be prepared the night before as it has to be chilled. Perfect in my opinion, one thing less to worry about on Christmas. Flan only requires only a few basic ingredients and is prepared in a jiffy, if this is not enough reason, I don’t know what is.
It is time for alfajores. Alfa what you ask? Alfajores are sandwich cookies that first were popular in Spain and later on brought to the colonies in Latin America. Traditionally alfajores are filled with the caramel cream called dulce de leche. Today I brought along some with strong coffee flavor and caramel as the filling. If you want to go extra crazy, you may also use some flaky sea salt as a nice contrast. We are in the middle of my cookie week and since I am posting seven cookie recipes from my birth country Uruguay on seven consecutive days, you get coffee alfajores today.
These cookies from Uruguay are called yo-yo as they actually look exactly like the toy yo-yo. When I took them to my colleagues as my first batch of test eaters, they got raving reviews. According to a few colleagues, I should bring more often treats from Uruguay if they were as tasty as these cookies. What I like about them is the fact that you can easily mix together the batter fairly quickly. It does contain a small part of cornstarch that makes them extra soft. Obviously it does contain the caramel cream names dulce de leche and is covered in chocolate. This is my sixth recipe in my cookie week.
Ricarditos are Uruguay’s version of chocolate-coated marshmallow treats. The base is a shortbread cookie, which then receives a meringue as topping. This meringue is then dipped in chocolate. Obviously, as always the Uruguayan caramel cream called dulce de leche also has to play a role here. Otherwise it would not be Uruguayan duh. This is my fifth recipe during my Uruguayan cookie week.
Espejitos or small mirrors is the literal translation of these cookies from Uruguay. They are made as a shortbread cookie, filled with jam and the caramel cream dulce de leche and have a chocolate covering. Sounds good? I just love these cookies, jam PLUS, caramel, PLUS chocolate, who can say no to that? Unfortunately it never takes long and they disappear so quickly whenever I make them, I simply can’t say no. These are my fourth recipe of my Uruguayan cookie week, check out the other recipes here.
Guys, I believe this is going to be a long post as I need to explain quite a bit. For recipe number 3 of my cookie week, I brought along Uruguayan crackers or bizcochitos de grasa, which are sometimes simply called bizcochitos. These savory crackers are usually served for breakfast or even prior to breakfast. Just as we are used to drinking coffee, Uruguayans drink mate tea. Not the old-fashioned way with tea bags, no, you will serve the loose tea in a curved container, which is called “bombilla”. The brown container you see on the pictures is what I am talking about. Usually the loose tea is placed in the bombilla, the filled with hot water and then you drink it with a type of straw. Mate tea is so common in Uruguay, you will always be offered a cup of it, regardless at which time of the day. You will see people on the streets happily walking around with thermos flasks, hot water is served at every single kiosk. Obviously, when we went on a holiday in Uruguay a few years ago, we naturally drank a lot of it. By the way, everybody will drink from the same straw and water is going to be refilled constantly. I don’t think I have ever heard of anybody being worried about hygiene.
Uruguayian salchichón de chocolate or chocolate salami is one of my favorite cookies from Uruguay. I decided to introduce this cookie during my cookie week. This is recipe number 2. You will find something similar in Italy, but since we are in Uruguay, of course we have to add the Latin American touch to it: dulce de leche. How to make dulce de leche from scratch I do explain in this blog post. And don’t you agree, doesn’t it look for real? If Uruguayans are good at something, it’s magically making something special out of the ordinary. Just like these salami cookies. You know, you basically throw together the ingredients, chill them, and then you cut off your salami slices. Well, OK, my version has you roast the hazelnuts, melt the chocolate and crush the cookies, but then you are actually good to go. Doesn’t this sound awesome?
Today I have something exciting to share. I am doing a cookie week. Yes, you read right, cookie week means I will publish seven cookie recipes on seven consecutive days starting today. I decided to start with meringue alfajores or in Spanish alfajores de nieve, which are chocolate sandwich cookies filled with caramel made from sweetened condensed milk and are dunked in dried meringue. They are my favorite cookie from Uruguay after the chocolate alfajores. I thought it was about time to introduce another variety of alfajores. You can also find classic alfajores, which is a shortbread sandwich cookie with cornstarch, double chocolate alfajores, and today finally alfajores with a thick layer of dried meringue: Alfajores de Nieve. Let’s get started on Uruguayan cookie week!
You asked for it, so finally you get traditional Uruguayan empanadas! Yay! Empanadas are flaky pasties in the shape of a half-moon filled with juicy and seasoned beef and boiled eggs. Usually they are served with the herb dip called chimichurri. Just thinking about these delicious treats make me want to grab one. When I made a story on Instagram about empanadas, I was surprised how many of you asked for the recipe and how many were excited about them. You guys encourage me to continue posting Uruguayan recipes, even if they may not be as popular as others. So here goes.
Barbecue and grilling season has started and for that reason I brought along the Uruguayan national dish: chivito. Chivito literally translates as “little goat”, even though it has nothing to do with a goat. Legend has it that an Argentinian tourist ordered something with goat from Antonio Carbonaro, the owner of the famous restaurant El Mejillón in Punta del Este. Since Antonio didn’t have any goat at hand, he came up with this burger/sandwich, which Anthony Burdain called the Everest of steak sandwiches: chivito.