--- See these and many more Mexican favourites in Pati’s Mexican Table, 3.30pm weekdays on SBS Food and on SBS On Demand; see the flower cookies on Monday 3 August ---
Pati Jinich calls these sweet, pretty creations bizcotela vestida – a Mexican biscuit ‘dressed-up’ with crunchy sugar crystals and rich, sweet caramel.
“I'm not lying to you when I tell you, it's my favourite cookie of all time!" says the host of Pati’s Mexican Table. And that pretty flower shape? “So easy!”
“They're incredibly delicious. They're like a little shortbread but with crystal sugar covering them. It's deliciously crunchy. And then the cajeta, the dulce de leche in the middle, the caramel, it makes it sticky. So, the inside of the sandwich cookie is getting a little bit moist, and you have the crunchy from the outside. They are just a delight," she says when we chat to her about these sweet creations.
The caramel-filled sandwich cookies are Jinich’s version of a recipe shared with her when she visited Mocorito, a small city in the Mexican state of Sinaloa, which is known for chilorio, a slow-cooked pork dish (discover how good it is in Pati’s recipe). A local family full of good cooks show her not only their chilorio, and another Sinaloan favourite, a sweet sugar and milk candy called jamoncillo, but an unexpected bonus: pretty flower-shaped cookies that are surprisingly easy to make.
“When Victoria was teaching us her chilorio recipe, one of her sisters, Marta, was in the kitchen making cookies. They're adorable and they're called bizcotela. She was kind enough to share her recipe with me,” she says (you can see it all in episode 9 of the current season of Pati’s Mexican Table).
“I was intrigued with how Marta was shaping them and cutting them, and I really wanted to learn how she was making that beautiful flower shape. And it turns out, it's easy,” Jinich says when she shares her twist in Pati’s Mexican Table.
All you need to do to shape the biscuits is to shape balls of dough and flatten them a little, then snip each dough five times with a pair of scissors, creating a ring of petals that open out a little during baking.
Jinich calls her version vestida because she turns them into sandwich cookies, filled with a layer of rich caramel.
“The cookie as I learned to make them there, they make the cookies in a beautiful flower shape, and they are delicious like that, but I love the cookies so much that I thought, 'oh I want to dress this up, you know, how can I make this even more delicious and tasty', so I added the crystals to the cookie, and then the dulce de leche in the middle and so it's called vestida, or 'dressed up',” she says when SBS Food chats to her about the wonderful things she eats and makes in the latest season of the show.
Jinich makes them larger than the ones she saw in Mexico - hers are about 5cm across.
Plain or filled, Jinich says they are the perfect biscuit for almost any occasion: “Just with a cup of coffee or a cup of tea. And as a snack, or as dessert, on their own or with a bit of ice cream. You can eat them any time of day.
“I packed some to ship to friends in New York for the holidays. I wrapped them in coloured tissue paper and put in boxes and sent them as a special gift and they adored them. And I will wrap them in a little parchment paper and put them in my kids' lunch bags."
Everyone loves them, including her, she says, because they are “crazy delicious” and so much fun to make. “It’s so easy and so charming and so beautiful!”
This is a twist on Mexico's tres leches cake, made with four milks including rich caramel. You can use many different fruits in this - I used plums and apricots are we had them fresh from my garden.
Once topped with the crisp coconut flakes, these warm coconut custards are entirely addictive.
These doughnuts - donas de chocolate Mexicano - are made using a special filled pancake pan, but you can also make them as regular pancakes, and serve the filling as a topping.
They come in many flavours, from plain, pecan and peanut to vanilla and cinnamon – even chocolate. I go for pecans. The name polvorón seems to come from the word polvo, which translates to dust or powder. Maybe because these cookies break into the finest of crumbs the moment they touch your mouth.