Winter Break Never Tasted So Good

I am on winter break and it is amazing.  It really didn’t sink in until a few hours after I got home Wednesday night…no homework, no readings, no impending exams or papers, nothing to worry about.  *Bliss*  I’ve already started my cooking escapades.  Yesterday, I decided to make arroz con leche (rice pudding) so I put some rice to soak.  Then Ryan decided to kidnap me for the day so I didn’t get back home until 10:00 at night.  Naturally I couldn’t just supress my cooking urge until the morning so at 11:00 pm I decided to make arroz con leche.  I didn’t want to make a huge quantity so I halfed the recipe that I usually do (will update under Recipes So Far tab).  I also didn’t have lemon rind so I just used a few drops of lemon juice we have in fridge; in the end there wasn’t a difference in taste.  The rice, because I left it in water while I was gone, soaked for about 8 hours, which made the rice very easy to cook and it came out very soft–perfect for the pudding.   The rice also cooked much faster than an hour, the commonly recommended time.   I think it is because my combination of milks makes the texture creamy in the first place so it doesn’t take long to thicken (only about 30 minutes).  The smaller quantity also helps.  My mom came into the kitchen at midnight all bleary eyed and confused because she was hearing voices from the kitchen (I was watching Tropic Thunder on my laptop while I cooked) and said, “You’re doing that now??”  The next day she called me from work and said my arroz con leche was “the bomb”.  :)  She’s so hip.

Today I wanted to make Torticas de Navidad, Cuban Christmas cookies, so I got all the ingredients for it and at around 9:30 pm (hm, late-night baking could become a problem…) I decided to bake them…but I forgot to buy butter.  I leafed through the cookbook and found a cookie that didn’t require butter, Torticas de Coco, or coconut cookies.  All it required was two eggwhites, shredded coconut, cornflakes, crushed walnuts, sugar, and vanilla extract.  I had the stuff already from the other cookie so I decide to try it.  First you have to beat the egg whites, then gradually add the sugar, continuing to beat.  Next you continue adding the rest of the ingredients.  Afterwards, you just spoon the mixture onto a greased baking sheet and pop in the oven for 15-20 minutes at 325 degrees.  Sounds simple right?  Well, egg whites are my baking nightmare.  For some reason they never seem to turn out right when I bake them.  When I try to make merenguitos, merengue cookies, they always turn out cooked and kind of chewy on the outside and with a hollow inside.  The same thing happened with these cookies.  It tastes good but it does have that hollow and chewiness; however, the cornflakes and walnuts add crunch while the merengue and coconut add chewiness, so it’s a cookie that manages to be both chewy and crunch at the same time.  It tastes pretty good–incredibly sweet–but I think they were supposed to turn out differently, perhaps more like a merengue cookie, airy and crisp.  Maybe it’s the size I made them, or I didn’t beat the egg whites right.  Curse you, egg whites.  You always seem to foil my plans.  We’ll see what the family thinks about the cookies tomorrow.  Either way, I need to try them again sometime.

Torticas de Coco

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