Thursday, July 7, 2011

The gospel

I've always found the variance in aversion to foods between cultures fascinating. I remember reading an article about eating fermented shark in Scandanavia, and though I will generally taste anything with an open mind, just imagining the smell made me want to retch. In Colombia caldo de ojo (eye soup) is served, and chicken feet often make appearances in soups, sometimes to the dismay of unsuspecting foreigners. Though all these things may sound, to me, to"us", naturally disgusting, let me remind you that many, many non-Americans find root beer totally gross (Speaking of gross soft drinks, have you ever had electric-yellow Peruvian Inca Kola? I just...can't...) And many non-Americans find peanut butter rather revolting, be still my heart. I understand it's mostly a texture thing (Uy pero se me pega al palador! Ugh but it sticks to the roof of my mouth!)
The flip side of what I would call culturally-determined food aversions are the combinations considered "natural". Who doesn't know that chocolate and peanut butter are the perfect combination? (Answer: the whole world outside of the U.S.) Felipe's mom Lucy and I were planning what dessert to go with a bandeja paísa and she said, of course if you're going to serve beans the dessert should be something with panela (unprocessed cane sugar). Who knew?

I walk by this woman at least a couple of times a week. She sets up right around lunchtime, and continuously pulls and kneads the toffee-like mass in her hand. She's there all afternoon, never letting the mass rest lest it harden, selling steadily to customers and replenishing the mass from the pot below. The pot contains a very simple mixture: "pezuña y panela", hoof and unprocessed cane sugar.

What results is a creamy, soft and stretchy mixture that tastes pleasantly of panela and is a lovely accompaniment to an after-lunch coffee. Thankfully it does not taste like what I imagine horse hooves taste like (I do know, of course, that gelatin is made from hooves, but I'm pretty sure she's not using the Knox powdered stuff). It is quite sweet, though, and after awhile it becomes empalagoso-- meaning you begin to feel like the inside of your mouth is coated with a layer of sugar, and it becomes a bit overwhelming.  (Spanish-1, English-0) 

Meanwhile, I try to spread the gospel about peanut butter and chocolate. Sometimes it goes better than others. But I made oreos with peanut butter filling the other day, and they were bittersweet and salty and everything I ever wanted, and people liked them so much I was even offered a job, and now they are all gone and I want more.

Peanut Butter Oreos

For the cookies:
1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/4 c. flour
1 c. sugar (I used a mix of white and natural cane sugar, which gave the cookies a less smooth appearance but a nice depth of flavor)
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
10 Tbsp. (5 oz. or 140 g.) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 egg, beaten

For the filling:
6 Tbsp. (3 oz.) peanut butter (natural)
1/4 c. (2 oz.) butter
1 c. (4 oz. or 113 g.) powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Sift the cocoa powder, flour, sugar, salt and baking soda together. Using your fingers or a pastry blender, cut the butter into the cocoa powder mixture. When you have a damp sand-like mixture, add in the egg and mix until well combined.
Roll large teaspoons of dough into balls with your hands and place them on a baking sheet 2 in. apart. I got 30 balls (rows of 5 by rows of 6) on a sheet. Flatten out each ball lightly with your fingertips, trying to keep a circular disk. Cook for 9 min., turning the baking sheet 180º after the first 5 min.
Let cool on pan. When cool, remove cookies to a plate. Repeat for the rest of the dough. 
For the filling, beat the peanut butter, butter and powdered sugar together. Make sandwiches with the cookies. Eat.

Oreos Caseros con Relleno de Mantequilla de Maní

Para las galletas:
1/2 taza de cacao amargo en polvo (sin azúcar-- también a veces se llama cocoa)
1 1/4 tazas de harina de trigo (tipo 000)
1 taza de azúcar (yo usé una mezcla de azúcar blanca y lo que se llama azúcar morena en Colombia que es azúcar rubia en Argentina)
1/2 cucharita de sal
1 cucharita de bicarbonato de soda
140 g. (5 oz.) de mantequilla sin sal, a temperatura del ambiente 
1 huevo, batido

Para el relleno::
6 cucharadas (85 g. o 3 oz.) de mantequilla de maní natural (debería decir 100% maní)*
4 cucharadas (56 g. o 2 oz.) de mantequilla (sin o con sal)
1 taza (113 g. o 4 oz.) de azúcar impalpable

Precalienta el horno a 190ºC. Tamiza el chocolate en polvo, harina, azúcar, sal y bicarbonato juntos sobre un bol, mezclandolos bien. Con los dedos, incorpora la mantequilla a la mezcla de cacao. Cuando tenes una mezcla como harina humeda, agrega el huevo y mezcla bien hasta que este uniforme.
Haz bolitas de una cucharita grande con las manos y colocalas en una bandeja, dejando 3 cm. entre las bolitas. Yo meto 30 bolitas (5 columnas de 6) a la bandeja. Aplasta cada bolita ligeramente con los dedos, haciendo un disco circulo. Cocina durante 9 min., rotando la bandeja 180º después de los primeros 5 minutos.
Deja las galletas a enfriar en la bandeja. Cuando se hayan enfriado, sacalas con una espatula a un plato y repite el proceso con el resto de la masa.
Para el relleno, bate la mantequilla de maní, mantequilla y azúcar impalpable juntos. Haz sandwiches con las galletas. Come.

*si solamente tenes acceso a mantequilla de maní con endulzantes y aditivos, deberías bajar la proporción de azúcar impalpable y mantequilla a mantequilla a maní 

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